Best places: L to T


Lakewood approved a sales- and use-tax rebate for construction materials to DaVita, the dialysis services provider that plans to build a DaVita Clinical Research location at the campus of the former St. Anthony Hospital.

“On the heels of the DaVita headquarters relocation from California to downtown Denver, the DaVita Clinical Research Division, based in Minneapolis, began seeking a new location for its Phase I Clinical Research Facility, which would include 58 employees and more than $2 million in capital investment,” says Nanette Neelan, Lakewood’s deputy city manager. “City staff simply built a relationship with the company and its real estate representatives that allowed the city to address the company’s need to have a connection to a major medical center and to have close proximity to hotels and nearby amenities such as restaurants and access to DIA.”

Neelan adds that Lakewood’s selling points are its highly skilled workforce, strategic location with the RTD West Rail Line that will be ready in 2013, and the government’s willingness to become a long-term strategic partner with businesses.

More information:


Lafayette develops incentive packages on a case-by-case basis, says Phillip Patterson, community development director and assistant city administrator. The city’s selling points are its location in southeast Boulder County, easy access to the Northwest Parkway and I-25, and the ability to process development reviews quickly. Among the newest businesses are Sunflower Farmer’s Market, the retailer JAX Outdoor, and the relocated Flatirons Community Church. The challenge in attracting new businesses, Patterson says, is “getting them to seriously look at what all Lafayette has to offer.”

More information:

Lone Tree

The City of Lone Tree has a low municipal sales tax – 1.8125 percent – and no municipal property tax. Lone Tree has invested in road infrastructure, and also has light rail through T-REX. Seth Hoffman, assistant city manager, says that helps explain why Sky Ridge Medical Center will launch a $100 million expansion, Kaiser Permanente is building a 260,000-square-foot medical building on a new regional campus, and the occupancy rate percentage for retailers at Park Meadows has been in the high 90s the past few years.

“I’m sorry if this comes off as a sales pitch, but I’ve been happily surprised by the volume of activity we’re seeing in a concentrated space,” wrote Hoffman in his answer to a questionnaire about the city’s developments.

But he also said, “I think most responses you’ll get relate to the lack of state incentives, and I don’t want to pile on.”

More information:

Logan County

The Sterling Correctional Facility is the largest employer in Logan county, with 850 employees. In 2002, a few years after the prison opened, area businesspeople met with community leaders to discuss what other businesses the area should try to attract. The group formed the Logan County Economic Development Corporation.

“It became apparent that the citizens of Logan County needed to decide what type of future they wanted to promote,” says Richard B. O’Connell, executive director of the LCEDC.

One goal was to create primary jobs. The LCEDC uses several tools to reach potential businesses, including a marketing brochure and demographic profile flyer, a confidential database of available properties and buildings, and a tailored presentation. O’Connell says it helps that Sterling is the largest town in a 90-mile radius.

“It offers the amenities of a regional hub while offering the low cost and tranquility of an area somewhat removed from Colorado’s Front Range,” he says.

Logan County has attracted large wind-power developments including Invenergy, EnXco and NextEra Energy Resources for a total of 467 wind turbines that supply 800 megawatts of renewable electric energy.

Another new business is Bomgaars, a multi-state farm and garden supply retailer that opened in November 2011 in a former Walmart store. LCEDC provided retail analytics information and coordinated with the real estate transaction.

More information:


Longmont offers several financial incentives. According to the city’s website, a sales and use tax exemption frees businesses new to Longmont, for the first two years, from paying the city 2.95 percent sales and use tax on the purchase or use of certain equipment. The city council will waive up to 100 percent of building permit fees, “under special circumstances.” Last year the city designated the Twin Peaks Mall an Urban Renewal District, making the struggling mall eligible for incentives and financing for possible improvements.

More information:


Montrose’s main attraction is its open space, says Sandy Head, executive director of the Montrose Economic Development Corp. “We are 70 percent BLM and Forest Service land,” she says. In January the German aircraft manufacturer Extra Aircraft announced it had chosen Montrose for a new headquarters and manufacturing facility. The company needed a place to test new aircraft, so Montrose offered seven acres for an aerospace research park. The company hasn’t moved yet, and Head says there have been FAA delays.

One company that did open in Montrose is the Australian company Adrenalin Campers, which opened a manufacturing facility this year.

More information:

Northern Colorado

Northern Colorado Economic Development serves nine jurisdictions in Larimer County, so incentives vary. Loveland pays incentives to employers of primary jobs that pay 150 percent of the average annual wage for the county. Fort Collins uses 110 percent average wage, and other communities use a case-by-case basis. Walt Elish, CEO of NCED, says the area’s real attraction is the proximity to I-25, the nearby Colorado State University, and the fact that Fort Collins is often named in various Best Places lists. Enterprise Rent-A-Car will open a claims center in Fort Collins.

More information:

Northwest Douglas County

The Northwest Douglas County Economic Development Corp., launched in November 2011, covers Roxborough, Sterling Ranch, Santa Fe corridor and Western Highlands Ranch. President Amy Sherman says the $4.4 billion Sterling Ranch community will be the new economic driver for Northwest Douglas County.

The mixed-use community, located between Chatfield and Roxborough state parks, will create 1,000 development-related jobs annually over two decades and 9,200 permanent jobs at build-out. For retention, Douglas County has an Economic Gardening program that helps local businesses with competitive analysis, market research and resources referrals.

Harold Smethills, managing director for Sterling Ranch, says Sterling Ranch will set a new standard for water efficiency by using one-third the water traditionally required in Douglas County. “In an historic move last year, the Douglas County commissioners unanimously approved Sterling Ranch’s water appeal, which dramatically decreases water usage through demand management, low-water landscapes and gardens, water-efficient outdoor irrigation and low-water indoor appliances. In addition, the community will further reduce outdoor water usage by becoming Colorado’s first rainwater-harvesting community,” he says.

Rainwater harvesting was not allowed in Colorado until 2009, when Sterling Ranch was approved as a pilot site for the practice. As the state’s first rainwater capture community, Sterling Ranch is collecting rainwater at its demonstration garden site created in partnership with the Denver Botanic Gardens.

More information:


The City of Pueblo offers incentive funds paid for by a half-cent sales tax that has been renewed by voters several times over the years. Jack Rink, president and CEO of Pueblo Economic Development Corp., says companies are also attracted to the area’s skilled manufacturing workers who are experienced in everything from the EVRAZ (formerly Oregon Steel) mill to the Vestas wind turbine tower plant. Colorado State University-Pueblo and Pueblo Community College have programs to train more people for manufacturing jobs. Also promising is the area’s infrastructure. “We’ve got tremendous water reserves that would last a community three times our size,” Rink says.

More information:

South Metro Denver

South Metro Denver has plenty of office space, says Jeff Holwell, director of the Economic Development Group for the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. “The sheer massive amount of office space available is higher than downtown,” he says. Plus, he says, parking is abundant and generally free in the south metro area. Also, the area is near Centennial Airport, the light rail, and T-REX. One recent success story was Arrow Electronics, which moved its headquarters from Melville, N.Y., to Englewood. Arrow will reportedly get tax credits of about $11 million through Colorado’s Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit Program.

More information:


Trinidad offers tax credits and other incentives through the state’s Enterprise Zone program. Steven Kelly, executive director of the Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development Office, says the city and county help businesses in other ways, such as building a new water line for the recently reopened New Elk Coal Mine. Trinidad’s top selling point, he says, is location: It’s halfway between Denver and Albuquerque, N.M., on I-25, and the BNSF railroad goes through town.

For business retention, the office distributes a questionnaire every two years to see what issues are top of mind, and Kelly presents the results to the city council. “I say, ‘Here is the health of our town. What can you folks help us do to make it a little healthier?’”

More information:

Categories: Company Perspectives