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Analyzing Manufacturing in Colorado:

Opportunities and Skills Analysis

EDCC along with Manufacturer’s Edge commissioned a statewide manufacturing study in the fall of 2018. It analyzes Colorado’s manufacturing skills clusters and supply chain opportunities, produced by Emsi – a labor market analytics firm. Over the course of last 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


Executive Summary | Manufacturing Study | Skills Cluster Mapping Key