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Officials: Aerospace industry brings big value to Colorado

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By Belen Ward

The recent Colorado Air and Spaceport Summer Showcase at the Wings Over the Rockies brought together a panel of aerospace local leaders to talk about opportunities for the aerospace and defense industry. 

The Colorado Office of Economic Development is promoting the aerospace and defense industry along with the Colorado Space Coalition, an initiative of the Metro Denver Economic Development.

Retired Maj. Gen. Jay Lindell is with the Colorado Office of Economic Development. He was a panel guest to discuss the future of space travel at the Summer Showcase.

“As part of aerospace in Colorado and the economic development, we looking for opportunity to brand and market aerospace in Colorado as an aerospace state,” said Lindell.

Vickey Lea is the director of the aerospace and aviation at the Metro Denver of Economic Development. She conducted the Q & A session with the industry local leaders.

“The space coalition mission is to help grow the aerospace economy and the state assets. Colorado is now a spaceport state,” said Lea.

According to the Space Foundation’s annual report in 2018, its global space economy has grown by more than 8 percent, exceeding $400 billion for the first time. The commercial space sector accounts for 80 percent of its global space spending.

“So here in Colorado, unlike many other states, we can benefit from having a decided, aerospace industry champion tasked with growing jobs that are industry based. It’s promoting strategic partnership that help Colorado aerospace thrive,” Lea said. “It’s no secret the aerospace industry is a huge economy driver.”

Lindell said marketing will be key, especially considering Colorado is a new player in the space port business. Lindell said the spaceport received its license more than a year ago. Before then, Colorado did not have a spaceport. Florida has three spaceports, while California and Texas have two.

The aerospace industry in Colorado helps the economic department market the industry as its state brand. Officials said this is huge for Colorado Air and Spaceport. Most of the state’s national security is here and uses a lot of space technology, according to the economic development officials.

“So to be able to have a global and international asset is to have an air and spaceport right here,” said Lindell. “It’s great to help market and brand Colorado, especially in this industry in Colorado. We have about a $350 billion economy depending on where our state budgeted and planning estimates this year.”

Lindell said more than 10 percent of the state’s economy – $36 billion – comes from aerospace and defense. “Even though we are years away from the technology, we are able to brand Colorado. Its extremely important,” said Lindell.