Economic development officials show off area’s attractions, including Loveland’s Hach Co.
Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
LOVELAND — Although the five corporate site-selection pros touring Northern Colorado this week hardly saw the mountains through the rain clouds, they still came away with a favorable impression of the area’s quality of life.
And two of them said Larimer and Weld counties have a lot to lure companies away from California.
The Northern Colorado Economic Alliance, with assistance from Greeley-based Upstate Colorado, brought the five from all over the country for a 2 ½ -day “site-selector familiarization tour” organized by NCEA’s CEO, Andy Montgomery.
Most of them had seen Denver’s business attractions but had never toured Northern Colorado, they said.
They started out Wednesday evening at New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins for a sip of the region’s beer culture, and they also visited The Group Real Estate for a regional overview, toured the Colorado State University Powerhouse Energy Campus, Woodward Inc., Vestas Blades, Noble Energy’s training center and Loveland’s Hach Co. and had lunch at the University of Northern Colorado.
At Hach, a 1,000-employee water-quality product manufacturer, the site selectors heard Friday about the company’s processes and growth, and they asked questions about employee recruiting, starting wages, the supply chain, how far workers commute and what concerns company officials have about the future.
After a tour of the facility, which will open its new 86,000-square-foot expansion Aug. 23, the participants heard a presentation about downtown Loveland revitalization from Jacque Wedding-Scott, executive director of the Loveland Downtown Partnership and Downtown Development Authority.
In interviews after the Hach Co. tour, two of the site selectors said they work with clients in California who are looking for a way out of the congestion, high cost of living and burdensome regulations of that state.
Rolf Jourgensen, principal of San Francisco Bay Area-based Jourgensen Consulting, said he used to live in Boulder and still visits there, and it was eye-opening to see the growth that Northern Colorado is experiencing.
Acknowledging that Interstate 25 is more congested than it was 15 years ago, Jourgensen said, “I have an extremely positive view on this area, certainly on the quality-of-life issues.”
Jourgensen also said he was impressed with the job-training arrangements he has seen between the community colleges and local manufacturers.
Brandon Talbert, director of Cleveland-based Austin Consulting, said he also works with West Coast manufacturers that are considering relocating.
“What has been the most surprising and interesting is the diverse economy you have here, with oil and gas, ag and a pretty heavy concentration of manufacturers,” he said. “I could see this region certainly having a lot of appeal.”
Friday’s events also included officials from Upstate Colorado, Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. and the Estes Park Economic Development Corp.
NCEA’s Montgomery said the site-selector tour was his organization’s first, although he has participated in Metro Denver EDC’s annual event. He said he had to turn some consultants away and has put them on the list for next year.