President and CEO
Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp.
Last year, Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC) celebrated its 10th anniversary — 10 years of working to enhance the economy of Larimer County.
NCEDC is a private-public 501 C (6) regional economic development organization whose primary mission is to attract and retain primary employers, as well as be an advocate for continuous improvement in Northern Colorado’s business operating environment.
NCEDC is governed by a 22-member board of directors comprised of people representing both the private and public sectors. Currently, NCEDC has more than 130 investors with revenues of approximately $500,000. Eighty-five percent of the funding is provided by businesses throughout the region, while 15 percent is contributed by a number of communities.
Businesses and communities invest because they support NCEDC’s mission of working to enhance the economy of Larimer County. NCEDC’s investors understand the positive impact a vibrant economy has not only on their business but also the community.
Since 2004, NCEDC has been involved in attracting more than 4,500 primary jobs with an average salary of $68,000. To provide a perspective, in 2011 the average earnings-per-worker at a primary employer was $59,300, while that of a non-primary employer averaged $33,400.
NCEDC also annually averages about 54 outside requests for available site and building information. Most recently — in 2011 — NCEDC responded to 74 requests and — in 2012 to date — there have been 55 requests for available site and building information.
There is no other Larimer county agency working to recruit national or international primary employers. These requests come from a number of sources, including our own outreach efforts, site location consultants, commercial brokers, state agencies and businesses themselves.
Although NCEDC provides services to every type of business looking to move or expand in the region, our focus is on the attraction and retention of primary jobs. A primary job tends to be the foundation of any economy as it represents “new” money coming in from outside the region that is then circulated throughout our local economy.
We often think of companies like Woodward or Intel being primary employers — and they are — but so are small and mid-size firms such as Madwire Media. Madwire has a number of contracts with companies outside Larimer County. As a result, a good portion of their revenues represent “new money” coming into the county, which is then circulated locally by the company and its employees through the purchase of supplies, new homes, new cars, groceries, etc…
Along with our business attraction efforts, NCEDC works very aggressively to retain the businesses we have. Over the past five years, NCEDC has assisted about 200 companies annually with their growth plans, often helping them move through a city’s permit process, accessing local and state incentives and workforce assistance.
NCEDC will frequently do an economic impact analysis to show what the value of a company’s expansion will have on the local economy. The result of this analysis often determines the amount of incentives communities will provide to an expanding business.
Even though it is easier to retain businesses, it is important to our economy that we continue to have a business retention and expansion strategy. As Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC, so aptly said it a few weeks ago, “A balanced approach to economic development requires making a run at big deals — a game in which Colorado and Northern Colorado have been successful.”
However, successful business recruitment strategies require a consistent and sustained presence in the market. “It is not for the faint of heart or chasing the next great thing,” said Clark. “Too many communities make that mistake.”
It is often said that in the U.S. there are about 14,000 economic development organizations and 25,000 communities all vying for about 150 annual expansion or relocation projects. It may seem like a needle in a haystack, but payoffs for the region can be significant. It is important to have companies like Vestas, Agrium, Constant Contact, Enterprise Holdings and Anheuser-Busch move into the region and make new investments to grow the regional economy.
This kind of sustained, proactive economic development program requires significant financial support and commitment from the community. NCEDC has been fortunate to have the support from the private and public sectors and the professional staff to implement the Board’s vision over the past 11 years.
As we begin our second decade of operation, NCEDC is looking to increase its investor base to implement an aggressive, proactive, targeted marketing program that will bring lasting benefit to the county. If you are interested in learning more about NCEDC and/or investing in our mission to enhance the economy of Larimer County, contact me or the NCEDC office at 970-667-0905.
I believe NCEDC and Larimer County have an exciting future ahead, and I look forward to working with our many partners to help make the county a very desirable place to live, work and do business.