Positioned for growth

A major step in crafting a region’s economic development strategy focuses on the types of industries to target for company growth and retention. Earlier this year, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) released its fifth annual Industry Cluster Study, a competitive analysis of industries leading the region’s future economic growth.

The report, completed by the Metro Denver EDC’s Chief Economist Patty Silverstein of Development Research Partners, analyzes seven major industries in the nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region: aerospace, aviation, bioscience, broadcasting and telecommunications, energy, financial services and information technology – software.

“Our strategy over time has been to grow Metro Denver’s economy through industry cluster development,” explains Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver EDC. “We are now seeing the success of these efforts–Colorado uniquely owns an ‘innovation’ niche in the economy that no other state can claim. In particular, we knew a day would come when the lessons and technology from one cluster would transfer seamlessly to another, and there is probably no better example of this than the new ‘Fly Green’ project from Bye Energy.”

Bye Energy, Inc. announced a proof of concept general aviation program, the Green Flight Project, that uses an electric hybrid propulsion system. George Bye, chairman and CEO of Bye Energy, said the company is collaborating with selected technology partners to develop a clean energy propulsion alternative to internal combustion engines that currently power light propeller-driven aircraft.

Bye pointed out that following an extensive nationwide search, Colorado already had among the very best alternative energy organizations. “I think it’s extraordinary that the technical challenges of a project of this type are met by alternative energy companies in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region,” he said.

Over the past year, Bye Energy has forged relationships with multiple technical partners including UQM Technologies, Inc. (electric motor and controller), Vertical Power, Inc. (energy management system), Porous Power Technologies, LLC (lithium-ion battery and separator technology), Scion Aviation, LLC (composite parts and materials), EEtrex Inc. (battery system), and Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (thin film photovoltaics).

The Metro Denver cluster analysis includes industry descriptions, employment concentration rank compared to the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, and key industry facts.

Metro Denver’s Industry Clusters – Competitive Advantages:

• Aerospace – The region ranks first out of the 50 largest metros for total private aerospace employment, with 19,870 workers. Job growth from 2004 to 2009 was 12.1 percent, compared to 10.1 percent for the U.S.
• Aviation – Growth at Denver International Airport will change the face of the region’s aviation industry. DIA is preparing for expansion over the next five to 15 years that will likely include a seventh runway, a terminal hotel, a FasTracks commuter rail station, and other projects.
• Bioscience – The region’s medical device sector is the sixth-largest in the nation. Employment grew 1.6 percent from 2008-2009, compared to -0.5 percent nationally.
• Broadcasting and Telecommunications – The region is a major center for this industry due to its location in the Mountain time zone and one-bounce satellite capability, and ranks fourth in the nation for industry employment concentration in 2009.
• Energy – The region ranks seventh in the nation for cleantech employment and eighth for fossil employment. Job growth from 2008-2009 in cleantech was 4.6 percent compared to -0.2 percent for the U.S.
• Financial Services – The region ranks fourth in the U.S. for banking and finance employment. The region also has a viable presence of investment and insurance firms.
• Information Technology – Software – Software companies employ 2.9 percent of the region’s total workforce, compared to a 1.6 employment concentration nationally. The region ranks ninth in the nation in software employment concentration.

The cluster studies factor employment data from third quarter 2008 to third quarter 2009. Statewide reports for the aerospace, bioscience, and energy industries are available in the industry section on metrodenver.org.

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Categories: Company Perspectives