Metro Denver EDC celebrates momentum in the economy

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) gathered on May 18, 2010 to celebrate the past year’s economic successes as well as the energy and momentum of its investors and community partners to move the region’s economy forward. The Sixth Annual Report to Investors and Awards Luncheon – The Energy is Everywhere – took place at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center.

Don Marshall, co-chair of the Metro Denver EDC and regional president of Wells Fargo, opened the event with an optimistic take on recent news regarding the region’s corporate headquarters.

"While there has been concern in this community about the loss of corporate headquarters to other regions, let us not forget that since 2006 we have competed for 54 corporate headquarters," Marshall explained. "Of those, we have been successful in locating 20. In fact, we have been more successful in attracting corporate headquarters than we have been in attracting manufacturing companies."

Executive Vice President Tom Clark highlighted the Metro Denver EDC’s biggest successes over the past year, most notably, a slew of company relocations and expansions in the cleantech industry.

"In the arena of cleantech, we have a strong market opportunity. The arrival of SMA Solar Technology, Vestas, Siemens Energy, REpower USA, and other companies from Europe has placed us squarely on center stage globally," he lauded.

Clark also announced a new marketing initiative that the Metro Denver EDC will launch nationally on May 24 at the WindPower 2010 Conference & Exhibition in Dallas. An international launch is planned during an economic development mission to Germany and Denmark in early June.

The multitier Colorado Cleantech branding and marketing campaign will expand on Colorado’s status as the North American hub for cleantech company growth through a new microsite, online advertising, national and international public relations, social media, and direct marketing to company executives.

The Metro Denver EDC's successful initiatives would not have been possible without the energy and support of investors and community leaders. The Metro Denver EDC presented three awards at the luncheon for outstanding contributions to the region's economy:


  • The Deal of the Year Award, recognizing a company that has created the largest economic impact to the region through new job creation and capital investment, was awarded to SMA Solar Technology. The Metro Denver EDC honored the Germany-based solar manufacturer for its choice to locate a 153,000-square-foot production facility in Denver at Stapleton’s Enterprise Park.

    The facility will be the largest solar inverter manufacturing center in the United States and SMA Solar Technology’s first plant outside of Germany. Solar inverters convert the DC current created by solar devices into the AC current needed for the power grid. Production is expected to start in the summer of 2010 with 300 employees and a capacity to expand to 700. SMA Solar Technology’s U.S. expansion will have a total capital investment of approximately $10-15 million over the first five years of operations.

    "SMA has 45 percent of the world’s market share in an exploding industry. We are proud that when the company chose to make its first expansion outside of Germany, that it chose Denver," said John Beeble, co-chair of the Metro Denver EDC’s Executive Committee and president of Saunders Construction.

    "The company searched for a place where the labor force is outstanding, the tax and incentive packaged worked, and where they could guarantee the same quality of product that they have from their operations in Germany. The fact that they found this perfect mix in Colorado speaks volumes for our burgeoning cleantech industry."
  • The Chairs' Award for Outstanding Efforts in Economic Development honored two of Colorado’s top political figures – Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and the state’s Chief Operating Officer Don Elliman – for their far-reaching efforts to grow Colorado’s New Energy Economy and expand the state’s ongoing economic competitiveness.

    The award honored work by Gov. Ritter and Elliman to rewrite the state’s income tax code to drive primary employment, change the state’s incentive system to make Colorado more competitive, and their efforts to provide tax relief to small companies.

    "Since 2007, Governor Ritter has signed nearly 50 pieces of clean energy legislation into law. These measures are making wind, solar, and biofuels, as well as efficiency measures, more affordable to homeowners and small businesses," said Marshall. "These policies are driving job creation, supporting businesses, and reviving our manufacturing sector while diversifying our energy mix and making us more energy independent."
  • The chairs of the Metro Denver EDC presented the Special Recognition Award for a lifetime of service and achievement in economic development to Don Dunshee, president and CEO of the Broomfield Economic Development Corporation. At the end of this month, he will retire following a remarkable 50-year career.

    Dunshee was recognized for his longtime service in the region to locate prestigious companies such as Sun Microsystems. He was also recognized as one of the original founders of the Metro Denver Network, the predecessor organization of the Metro Denver EDC that has become a national model for regional cooperation and economic development partnerships.

    "Don concludes one of the most successful economic development careers in this nation. He has been honored and esteemed by his colleagues here and across the country," explained Beeble. "He is also fondly acknowledged as a highly dedicated, knowledgeable, and patient mentor to many economic developers throughout Colorado."

"Colorado is well positioned for innovation and growth in the global economy," Lang explained. "The Denver region is riding out the recession a whole lot better than the rest of the west and is well positioned for industry growth, particularly in renewable energy."

Dr. Lang is a respected author on urban issues whose work includes the books Edgeless Cities: Exploring the Elusive Metropolis (2003), Boomburbs: the Rise of America’s Accidental Cities (2007), and his latest book titled The New Politics of Planning (2009) published by the Urban Land Institute.