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Jefferson County: Coming of age in the new millennium.

In 1955 a group of businessmen met at the Lakewood High School gymnasium to discuss ways to attract the gigantic aerospace company, Martin Marrietta, to build a new facility in the suburbs west of Denver. That meeting would forever change the face of Jefferson County. Martin Marrietta -- now Lockheed Martin -- built its campus in the southwest corner of the county and continues to be the county's largest employer with a workforce of nearly 7,000.

The Jefferson Economic Council (JEC) was born out of that 1955 meeting as well, and today is one of the oldest, largest and most respected economic development organizations in Colorado. Headed by Tom Clark, a former executive with the Denver Metro and Boulder Chambers of Commerce, JEC is the primary vehicle for creating, retaining and attracting primary businesses to the county. Primary businesses are those that sell and distribute products and services outside the local market.

At a time when many business groups are lamenting the economic downturn, the Jefferson Economic Council is knee-high in projects and initiatives designed to make the already attractive county, even more appealing to commerce and industry. Clark particularly promotes the county's accessibility to downtown.

"There's a myth out there that Jeffco is a lot farther from downtown than it is. Most locations in the county are a 20 to 25 minute drive to midtown," Clark says. "With TREX coming online, we are seeing more interest in Jefferson County as companies are making an effort to make it easier for employees to get to work."

Another misconception, he adds, "is that we don't have a lot of developable land. In fact, there will be plenty of land in the next couple of years."

The availability of land is increasing, in part, due to a cooperative effort between JEC and the county government. Two years ago, JEC formed a Land Inventory Committee to study land use and ownership along the C-470 corridor from Hampden (US-285) on the north and Wadsworth on the south. As a result, landowners are working together to combine and rezone sizable parcels for commercial and industrial development in an area that features quick access to major transportation corridors.

Meanwhile, JEC is embarking on a new project to aggressively market land in and around the Jeffco Airport along the county's northern border near Wadsworth Boulevard and 120th Avenue.

"What we discovered during the Boeing process (when Colorado officials and business leaders campaigned for the Boeing headquarters to relocate to the metro area) is that vacant land on or near general aviation airports is very scarce," says Clark.

As such, it's much in demand. With 150 acres available on the airport mesa and another 400 acres located nearby, JEC will help the county package and market the valuable parcels. Clark also points out that a couple of miles south of the airport, Arvada has annexed about 1,400 acres of the Vauxmont and Cimarron projects. Located near Indiana and Highway 72, the proposed multi-use site will include commercial, residential and retail spaces.

Westminster, with its immediate access to U.S. 36, also enjoys prime development locations at the Church Ranch Corporate Center, CirclePoint Corporate Center, Westminster Promenade and the Westmoor Technology Center.

Although not strictly a commercial project, the construction of the Heart Center at Exempla Lutheran Medical Center provides another boost to the Jeffco economy. The $13 million, 25,000-square-foot expansion to the regional healthcare facility will provide a full range of cardiology services in one location. It is scheduled for completion in October.

Clark further credits two significant developments that are in progress for elevating Jefferson County's business profile even higher: Colorado Mills, a regional shopping center under construction between Sixth Avenue and West Colfax near Indiana, and the redevelopment of Villa Italia in the heart of Lakewood at Wadsworth Boulevard and Alameda.

"This is a signal to the market that Jeffco is pushing the bar. There are some exciting and very viable projects happening in the county," says Clark.

When it opens this fall, Colorado Mills will include 18 anchor tenants among 200 retailers-many new to Colorado-and an unusual array of restaurants and entertainment venues. The $250 million project is expected to be one of the state's top tourist attractions, generating an estimated $4.6 million in annual sales tax revenues for the city of Lakewood and creating 3,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, the new Villa, developed by Continuum Partners LLC which recently completed the $55 million 16 Market Square in downtown Denver, will begin demolishing the vacant Villa Italia mall this spring, replacing it with pedestrian-friendly Main Street and Central Plaza that will include retail, office and residential spaces. The 1 million-square-feet first phase is scheduled for completion in late 2003. The entire 100-acre site is expected to be fully built-out by 2010, giving Lakewood its first official downtown center.

"This year will be the 'Year of Retail' in Jefferson County and it will be really exciting," says Clark. "At the same time, we'll be bringing a lot of new land into play so that in 2003 we'll really be in the thick of things."
Jefferson County's major employers No. of employees

Lockheed Martin Astronautics 7,000
Federal Center 6,200
Coors Brewing Company 5,000
Exempla Healthcare 3,300
Rocky Flats/Kaiser Hill 2,800
CoorsTek 1,500
Gambro 1,300
National Center for Renewable Energy 1,000
AON Innovative Solutions Inc 1,000
COBE Cardiovascular 900
Jefferson County Major Corporate Headquarters Locations

ACT Teleconferencing Lakewood
Adolph Coors Company Golden
The Bailey Company
(7th largest Arby's franchise) Golden
Christy Sports Lakewood
CoorsTek Golden
Einstein Bagel Corp. Golden
FirstBank Holding Corp. Lakewood
Graphic Packaging Golden
Mobile Tool International Westminster
Requisite Technology Westminster
Stephany's Chocolates Arvada
UQM Technologies Golden


RELATED ARTICLE: A Snapshot of Jeffco

Area: 777 square miles

Population: 527,056

Major municipalities: Lakewood, Arvada, Golden, Wheat Ridge, Westminster

Amenities: 45,500 acres of open space (One of the most highly-acclaimed open space programs in the United States) with 18 public open space parks.

Unique government resources: Home to the Federal Center, one of the largest collections of government offices outside of Washington D.C.

Major transportation corridors: Interstate 70, C-470, Highway 285 (Hampden), Sixth Avenue, Wadsworth Boulevard, Kipling Street, Highway 36, US-40.

Median income: Second highest median income-$60,834-in the Denver metro area and the 29th highest in the nation.

Higher education: Colorado School of Mines in Golden is considered one of the premier public science and engineering schools in the world. It is renowned for its petroleum engineering degrees. The CSM physics department yearly confers the most bachelor's degrees from among the 750 physics programs offered at colleges nationally. Red Rocks Community College is among the elite 2-year colleges in the state, offering unique programs in computer information systems, health care, early childhood education, construction technology and fire science technology. Front Range Community College and Arapahoe Community College also serve Jefferson County.

Keeping good company in Jeffco

Jefferson County is home to numerous high-profile corporate names, including the Adolph Coors Company, Lockheed Martin, Gateway and Einstein Bagels. During the past year, Apria Healthcare, the nation's leading provider of home healthcare services, relocated to Jeffco and is building a 100,000-squarefoot facility in the Ken Caryl Business Center. CSG Systems Inc., a provider of billing, customer care and management solutions to the information technology industry, announced that it is expanding its Denver operations to include a 30,000-square-foot office in Westminster's CirclePoint Corporate Center.

Moneygram revealed expansion plans to occupy 69,000-square-feet of new office space to be developed by OPUS Northwest in Academy Park near South Wadsworth Boulevard and Hampden Avenue. Also in Academy Park, Ludvik Electric purchased a 36,000- square-foot building to relocate its headquarters.

The Plains End Generating Co., meanwhile, selected a 55-acre site in the new Vauxmont Intermountain Communities development adjacent to Colorado 72 in Arvada to build a natural gas fueled power plant that will generate up to 113 megawatts of electricity. Operation should begin this spring.

To build on its diversified base of manufacturing, consumer and business services, research & development and retail, the Jefferson Economic Council has developed a strategy for building on its core industries.

"Jefferson County is unique in that we have the second largest concentration of medical device manufacturers in Colorado," says Michelle Claymore, JEC director of business location and expansion. Because of its strong medical and biotech cluster, JEC will continue to pursue related companies.

Among the many Jeffco-based biotech and medical device firms and organizations are:

* AMC Cancer Research Center-National research institution dedicated to cancer prevention

* Allos Therapeutics-Pharmaceuticals

* CoorsTek-Ceramic components for medical devices

* COBE Cardiovascular-Cardiac surgery products

* GAMBRO-Blood component and kidney dialysis equipment

* UQM-Electric Motors for wheel chairs

* Lens Dynamics-Contact lenses

* Mesa Laboratories-Electronic instrumentation

* Pasco Laboratories-Veterinary equipment

* TMJ Implants-Dental prosthetics

* Myogen Inc.-Cardiovascular drugs and treatments

JEC is also eager to entice more alternative energy related firms to the county. Having the renowned National Renewable Energy Laboratories located on the slopes of South Table Mountain and the Colorado School of Mines in Golden in Golden has helped support and grow this industry in Jefferson County.

Among the growing number of alternative energy companies are:

* Altair Energy-Solar and photovoltaic systems

* Industrial Solar Technology-Parabolic trough solar collector systems

* Infinite Power Solutions-Micro-miniature, rechargeable batteries

* ITN Energy Systems-Spacecraft power substations

* Microgy-Bio-energy and cogeneration systems

* PanAero Corporation-Services to large wind energy systems and farms

* SAIC-Packaged power systems

* UQM Technologies-Drive systems for electric vehicles
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Article Details
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Author:Couch, Jan
Publication:ColoradoBiz
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2002
Words:1566
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