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A conversation with.Don Elliman, Executive Director, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (COEDIT)

"We welcome the formation and development of new products, and new manufacturing technologies. In the renewable-energy arena, Colorado is filled with natural resources, from abundant and consistent wind and solar energy to plenty of agricultural opportunities and very high mandates for our utilities. "

Jun/Jul 07
Q. You just recently arrived at COEDIT. What is your background and vision for Colorado?
A.
I spent most of my life in the media business in New York, and moved to Colorado in 1997. I spent 32 years at Time Inc. in a variety of roles, including publisher of People magazine and president and publisher of Sports Illustrated. After that, in 2000, I became president and CEO of the company that owns the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, and the Pepsi Center, and retired from that in 2004, and then became active in community activities. Finally, I was invited to take on this post. I look forward to helping Governor Ritter in his Colorado Promise initiative to focus our energies on improving and increasing business for Colorado's future generations. His strategy focuses on five regions and four industries. Of those four, three already have a high-technology component. I also want to focus on the smaller businesses. Colorado has a higher concentration of small businesses than the national average because of the entrepreneurial culture of our state. While many usually operate under our radar screen, they offer an enormous amount to our state. We want to attract, retain and encourage expansion to these types of companies.

Q. What are the industries targeted for more growth?
A.
Renewable energy, aerospace, bioscience, and tourism. We have a phenomenal research base in the biosciences, aerospace, and renewable energy, boosted by our universities, such as the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, and University of Denver, as well as the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden. Adding to that is the fact that we are a very entrepreneurial state. We welcome the formation and development of new products, and new manufacturing technologies. In the renewable-energy arena, Colorado is filled with natural resources, from abundant and consistent wind and solar energy to plenty of agricultural opportunities and very high mandates for our utilities.

Q. Are there any areas in the state that are growing with a particular type of business or industry?
A.
Yes. There's mining and energy in Western Colorado; agriculture and ethanol in the East; aerospace, energy, renewable energy, and bioscience in the front range; renewable energy in the San Luis Valley; and, of course, tourism throughout most of the state.

Q. What is the most exciting bit of development news that happened this year?
A.
In March, Vestas Blades A/S announced the decision to build a wind-blade manufacturing facility in Windsor, Colorado. It will be the company's first manufacturing facility in North America and will mean up to 464 new jobs and roughly $50 million in capital investment. It will also serve as an anchor to Colorado's emerging renewable energy industry. Second is the United Launch Alliance (ULA). A 50-50 partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the ULA is a brand new company that will be the sole producer of launch vehicles (rockets) for the U.S. government in departments such as NASA and the Department of Defense. In December 2006, they posted final approval of the alliance and announced its headquarters operations in Colorado, and will create up to 900 jobs in the immediate future.

Q. Regarding exports, which countries are the largest trading partners?
A.
Colorado's exports of manufactured, agricultural, and mineral products hit $7.96 billion in 2006, up 17.3 percent over the 2005 figures. Canada was our top export market, with a 2.3 percent increase to almost $1.85 billion, followed by Mexico, up 20.2 percent to $1.02 billion. Exports to China, including Hong Kong, grew 42.9 percent to $800 million, making it our third-largest market. Sales to Taiwan rose 243.6 percent to $707 million, placing it in fourth position, and Japan was the fifth-largest market, with exports increasing 3.9 percent to almost $400 million. Other countries making up our top-10 export markets, in descending order, were Germany, Malaysia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and France. 

Q. What are some of the most popular products?
A.
Semiconductors, the state's top export category, was $1.3 billion in 2006. Colorado's second-largest export, computers and peripherals, was $937 million, while our third-largest export, office machine components, was $657 million. Other top export commodities included telecommunications equipment, fresh or chilled beef, and medical and scientific equipment.

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