Adams County ‘finding its place’

National site experts visit and discuss how county ranks

Scott Taylor
staylor@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/26/21

Site development expert Jeannette Goldsmith told a crowd of local officials and business owners that she gets the sense that Adams County is trying to figure itself out, based on two days of tours …

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Adams County ‘finding its place’

National site experts visit and discuss how county ranks

Posted

Site development expert Jeannette Goldsmith told a crowd of local officials and business owners that she gets the sense that Adams County is trying to figure itself out, based on two days of tours and visits to local businesses and projects.

Goldsmith, vice president of South Carolina-based site development search firm Strategic Development Group, said she’s been reminded of two counties in Tennessee — Sumner and Rutherford counties — while touring Adams County.

Both counties are east of Nashville, Rutherford County to the southeast of Nashville and Sumner to the northeast.

“Both are places that are trying to figure out where they fit in as a part of the Nashville metro area,” Goldsmith said. “I get the same sense about Adams County, trying to figure out where you fit in Metro Denver.”

Rutherford County is home to the largest state university in Tennessee, as well as Nissan’s North American manufacturing facility.

“They are really taking a tack to figure out what makes them unique and how they can add value,” she said..”Sumner is struggling a little bit to figure out their place in the region. Those two places have been in the back of my mind for the last 24-to-36 hours.”

Goldsmith was one of three national site selection experts brought to the area by the Adams County Regional Economic Partnership to visit local developments and then give their opinions on how Adams County is doing — and what it can do better.

This is the fourth time the partnership has hosted the summit in five years, with the event returning for 2021 after taking a break in 2020.

The Partnership brought in three site selection experts from around the country July 19 through 22.  They included Goldsmith, Andy  Shapiro, managing director of San Francisco’s Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company LLC and Jerry Szatan of Chicago-based Szatan and Associates. All three are considered experts in helping large businesses find the best cities and communities around the country to expand their operations or to relocate.

The group spent July 20 and 21 visiting a number of potential business magnets, ranging from Denver International Airport to the Colorado Air and Space Port and from Fitzsimmons Innovation Community to the Stanley Marketplaces. Their day culminated in a farm-to-table dinner and reception hosted by Adams County at Riverdale Regional Park and the July 22 breakfast.

Commerce City hosted the breakfast discussion at Dicks Sporting Goods Park, for county, municipal and economic development officials and business owners from around the region.

For Szatan, it was his second Adams County Site Selectors Summit. He visited the area in 2017 and said it was good to come back and see what had changed, especially RTD’s N-Line rail that connects Northglenn, Thornton and Commerce City to downtown Denver. That project was in the works the last time he came but opened last summer.

“The advantage for Adams County being linked to Denver is that if you have people that want to operate there, you have an alternative to driving,” Szatan said..”It’s a huge plus to have that network and the opening of the North line is one of those things that’s different today than when I was here four years ago.”

The panel discussion was moderated by local attorney Carolynne White of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, who specializes in local development and urban renewal projects. After introductions, she asked the panel if the historical trends towards more office space centralized in big cities would continue in the wake of COVID-19, pandemic quarantines and the realization that working remotely is possible.

Szatan said he thinks the need for offices will stabilize as the need for both centralized office workers and remote workers builds. He cautioned patience, saying we don’t know exactly how that will work out.

“I think this hybrid model is here to stay, with a balance between traditional in-office work and at home,” he said..”But what that is going to look like depends. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that a company in a hybrid situation still wants everyone to come to the office on Tuesdays. Well, then you still need to have an office big enough for everyone. In that sense, the demand for office space won’t change. But we’ll have to see.”

San Francisco-based Shapiro said the trend toward businesses moving to smaller communities began before COVID, so he expects that to continue. Business functions that might have been centered in large ”Tier 1 cities” like New York City or Chicago began migrating to smaller Tier 2 cities like Denver years ago.

“This has been going on for 20 years ago,” he said. ”COVID has accelerated a movement out of Tier 1 markets to Tier 2 cities and even to Tier 3 markets, smaller university towns and smaller state capitals that are amenity-rich but don’t have some of the big city problems. That will help them attract and retain talent.”

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