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IndustryNet Blog

Manufacturing in Colorado picks up speed as state adds jobs for a seventh straight year

Posted by IndustryNet on Tuesday, September 26, 2017

100000112plexiglassworkersAccording to new data released by MNI, compiler and publisher of the industrial information that powers IndustryNet, manufacturers in Colorado added jobs for a seventh straight year, as the state’s unique business climate spurred growth across multiple sectors.

MNI reports industrial companies in Colorado added 2,308 new jobs between June 2016 and June 2017, or 1%. This outpaces the gains MNI reported over the 2015-2016 survey period, in which the state added 700 jobs, and generally points to new momentum in the state’s manufacturing sector.

Gains over the past year were spread across multiple sectors -- a reflection of Colorado’s robust and diverse economy. Employment increases were reported by manufacturers of paper products; lumber/wood; furniture/fixtures; stone/clay/glass; chemicals; and electronics.

Food processing, however, which remains Colorado’s top sector by industrial employment, led the state’s gains, up 2% over the year.

Regionally, employment increases were also widely distributed, with most of Colorado’s four quadrants posting gains. Southeast Colorado increased its workforce by 2%; Northwest Colorado gained 1.8%; while the Northeast added 1%. The Southwest was the only to lose jobs, down 1.7%.

Taking a look at cities, MNI’s data shows Denver was the big winner over the year, adding 2% to its industrial workforce. Other cities gaining jobs included Fort Collins, up 1.6% and Aurora, up 1.1%.

Colorado’s seven-year winning streak spurred by multiple industriescoloradomanufacturing (1)

Overall, Colorado’s manufacturing job growth has been steady over the past seven years, with gains fueled by diverse industries. The oil boom took hold in the post-recession era, boosting employment in oil/gas sector and related industries, while major strides were made in food processing, electronics, and aeronautics. Since June of 2010, Colorado added an astounding 17,000 jobs, according to MNI data, an increase of 9%.

Numerous plant openings and expansions were announced over the years, including expansions at Vesta Wind Systems and UTC Aerospace in Pueblo; 3D desktop printer manufacturer Aleph Objects in Loveland; and Elkhart Plastics in Littleton. A joint venture of ConAgra Foods, Cargill, and CHS opened a headquarters in Denver under the name of Ardent Mills, and Terumo BCT established a manufacturing location in Lakewood.

Why Colorado is so appealing to manufacturers

According to recent rankings compiled by CNBC, Colorado scores big for a number of site selection factors, including an abundance of capital, low business costs, educated workforce, robust economy, and focus on technology and innovation.

The latter has proved extremely beneficial to Colorado, with numerous advanced manufacturing operations calling the state home. Recent data suggests the state should continue to see sustained growth in its industrial sector with some exciting new high-tech projects on the horizon.

Lockheed Martin recently unveiled plans to establish a $340 million satellite factory in Denver, and Ball Corporation continues to make progress on a major expansion at its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Westminster. EWI recently established an innovation center in Loveland with the goal of helping manufacturing companies adopt new technologies. The Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (CAMA) is also helping to pave the way forward, offering important resources to manufacturers.

welding2037926960720Challenges ahead

Despite these important trends, Colorado falls short in one important area: availability of skilled labor. This has been most evident in the state’s construction industry in the post-recession era, but workers for some types of manufacturing have been in short supply as well. Although Colorado’s workforce is highly-educated, many manufacturers have found it challenging to find enough workers with the right skills.

This has become such a pressing issue for the state that recent legislation mandates Colorado high schoolers be informed of the benefits of trade schools and pursuing careers in manufacturing. The state continues to make great strides in addressing this issue, with public/private partnerships investing heavily in STEM education programs, like Lockheed Martin’s $800,000 investment in Denver Pubic Schools and the Gill Foundation’s $400 million STEM grant to public schools in Englewood. 

This will hopefully usher in a new generation of skilled workers, and bodes well for continued growth in the state’s industrial sector

By the Numbers

Colorado’s 6,272 industrial companies employ 215,001 workers.

Here’s a further breakdown of the numbers:

Leading Colorado Industries by Employment:

15% Food and kindred products
13% Industrial machinery and equipment
13% Electronic and other electric equipment
10% Instruments and related products
8% Fabricated metal products

Largest Colorado Manufacturers by Employees:

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. (Littleton) - 7,000 
DISH Network, LLC (Englewood) - 4,000 
JBS USA (Greeley) - 3,200 
Raytheon Co., Intelligence & Information Systems Div. (Aurora) - 2,400 
Oracle Corp. (Broomfield) - 2,000 employees
Cargill Meat Solutions (Fort Morgan) - 2,000 
Sandoz, Inc. (Broomfield) - 2,000 
Terumo BCT, Inc. (Lakewood) - 2,000 

CO Counties with the Most Industrial Jobs:

Denver - 52,404
Arapahoe - 46,573
Boulder - 24,839
El Paso - 20,092
Weld - 16,295

CO Cities with the Most Manufacturing Jobs:

Denver - 51,281
Colorado Springs - 19,035
Englewood - 17,149
Boulder - 12,722
Littleton - 10,270

For more information on Colorado manufacturers

MNI’s extensive manufacturing data powers IndustryNet, an industrial marketplace that connects buyers with suppliers. IndustryNet allows users to search and source more than ten thousand types of products, parts, supplies, and services for free. IndustryNet® lists every U.S. manufacturer plus thousands of wholesalers & distributors and industrial service providers. To connect with industrial suppliers in Colorado and across the U.S. start your free search on IndustryNet. Or, to access detailed profiles of Colorado’s 9,124 manufacturers and their 30,000 executives, learn more about MNI’s EZSelect manufacturers database subscription.

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