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Statewide Manufacturing Study Released at EDCC’s Annual Conference

Estes Park, Colorado – October 24-26 – Over 200 economic development professionals and stakeholders gathered at the Ridgeline Hotel for the Economic Development Council of Colorado’s (EDCC) annual Drive|Lead|Succeed Conference. With mid-term elections on the horizon and ballot initiatives that could have devastating impacts on the state’s economy, the convening of such an audience was timely and dynamic.

Inspired by Estes Park, nicknamed the “gutsiest little mountain town in Colorado” for its steadfast comeback after two devastating floods, the three-day conference focused on economic challenges and opportunities communities will be facing in the next three to five years. A variety of industry experts were on hand to provide leading-edge resources and strategies to help communities and businesses address these challenges. Topics ranged from:

  • the upcoming election and how it will affect our local economies
  • the recent release of Metro Denver EDC’s Toward a More Competitive Colorado (TMCC), an annual benchmark report analyzing Colorado’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities for future job growth and economic expansion
  • how communities are tackling our housing crisis
  • and how Colorado is leading nationally in the Opportunity Zones race for investment, giving Colorado the competitive edge, it needs to bolster local economies around the state

Among the dynamic topics discussed at the conference was the release of EDCC’s statewide manufacturing study analyzing Colorado’s manufacturing skills clusters and supply chain opportunities, produced by Emsi – a labor market analytics firm. Over the course of the past year, EDCC convened a steering committee comprised of top industry leaders and economists in Colorado including CU Leeds School of Business, Manufacturer’s Edge, Lockheed Martin, Freeport-McMoran, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Business and Industry Services Network – Colorado Community College System, and EDCC members: La Plata Economic Development, and Town of Gypsum.

The study aimed to identify business expansion and recruitment opportunities for each of the six regions in Colorado, that would help support, and potentially bolster, manufacturing statewide.

Key findings in the study showed that:

  • Colorado is among only two states in the nation to possess five distinct skills clusters, aiding in skills diversity for the State’s manufacturing industry cluster.
  • The top skills cluster identified in this study was Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). GMP relates to quality control and ensuring products meet necessary standards, whether those are consumer-driven or mandated by groups like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This skills cluster sees the greatest potential in growth for Colorado.
  • Out of the six geographical regions in Colorado; the western, southwestern, and San Luis Valley region – although the smallest in terms of the average earnings per employee, the number businesses, and gross regional product (GRP) for manufacturing – is projected to see the fastest growth of the six regions over the next five years.
  • The manufacturing industry in Colorado imports 91.6 percent of all purchases ($316 million) from plastics material and resin manufacturing, making it a prime target for recruiting opportunities.

“It’s important that business and community leaders, economic developers, and chambers of commerce read this study, understand it, and put its findings to work in building new supply chain efficiencies across the state” said Jeremy Rietmann, EDCC Board Chair.  “We can do a better job of connecting existing skillsets and manufacturing capabilities to in-state supply chain needs to support quality job growth and economic output that benefits both rural and urban communities in Colorado.”

Colorado’s manufacturing is re-emerging after decades of steady job losses. Colorado has a unique opportunity to support the new demand for multi-skilled production workers and shore up the supply chain gap. The executive summary and report can be found at

Special thanks to our event supporters:
Platinum Sponsor: Xcel Energy
Gold Sponsors: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Colorado Workforce Development Council, CHFA, Metro Denver EDC
Event Support Sponsors: BNSF Railway, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade – Minority Business Office, Comcast, Black Hills Energy, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Climax Molybdenum, Localintel, Town of Windsor, Colorado Companies to Watch, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, City of Westminster, Upstate Colorado, The Retail Coach, Manufacturer’s Edge, Vital for Colorado
Media Sponsors: Western Real Estate Business Journal, Colorado Real Estate Journal


Executive Summary

Manufacturing Study

Skills Cluster Key