Colorado’s Advanced Industries Are Booming

The Rocky Mountain State is supporting advanced industries through phases of growth with four types of grants and two global business programs.

By the BF Staff
From the September/October 2018 Issue

Not only are advanced industries (AIs) key drivers of the U.S. economy, they are also the prime economic drivers for the state of Colorado. Comprising engineering and R&D-intensive companies, they deliver products and services in a wide range of markets, from aerospace to medical devices.

Nearly 11,000 tech companies are located in Colorado, including Arrow Electronics (corporate headquarters pictured above).

The AI Accelerator Program was created in 2013 to promote key industry growth and sustainability by driving innovation, commercialization and public-private partnerships, while also increasing access to early-stage capital.

Colorado’s AIs include aerospace, advanced manufacturing, bioscience, electronics, energy and natural resources (including cleantech), infrastructure engineering, and technology and information. Together, they account for nearly 30 percent of the state’s total wage earnings, around 30 percent of total sales revenue, and almost 35 percent of the state’s total exports.

As part of a statewide strategy to support these critical industries in their various phases of growth, four types of grants and two global business programs have been made available. The four targeted grants are proof of concept, early-stage capital and retention, collaborative infrastructure funding and

AI exports. A network of consultants and an export training program are also available as part of AI global business to support these industries as they strive to reach worldwide markets.

“Colorado continues to set the standard for innovative programs, which in turn accelerate key and growing industries in our economy,” said Stephanie Copeland, Executive Director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. “It’s exciting to see this program bring pioneering ideas from concept through development to entry into the global marketplace.”

Since the program’s inception, approximately $49.6 million has been granted from the AI fund. To date, the program has created more than 534 new jobs. Additionally, the program has helped companies acquire over $154.7 million in grants and investments in order to further commercialize their advanced technologies.

“Colorado is a leader in innovation and business start-ups,” said Copeland. “The AI Accelerator Program is a key initiative in encouraging such activity within the state.” The program helps to promote Colorado’s innovative business ecosystem, while also ensuring that the state’s innovators can compete in the global economy. Colorado’s technology industry is a sizeable and diverse economic sector; it has an inspirational and productive base that underpins the industry’s growth in a sustainable manner.

Colorado has the third-highest concentration of tech workers in the US, with nine percent of the state’s private sector workforce employed in technology firms, according to CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2016 report. IT software was the region’s fastest-growing cluster in 2016, having grown by 9.4 percent as a result of landmark company expansions and venture capital activity. A strong entrepreneurial spirit fuels this industry, which employs 107,596 workers with an average wage of $119,820 at companies throughout the nine-county metro area.

Of Colorado’s adult population, more than 39 percent has completed a bachelor’s or higher level degree, making Colorado the second-most highly educated state in the US, behind Massachusetts.

Colorado also ranked third in the nation for small business innovation research grants per worker. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 the state received more than 200 grants, totaling nearly $82.1 million, or $32.90 in grants per worker compared with the US average of $11.80.

Colorado’s simplified corporate income tax structure is based on single-factor apportionment which allows companies to pay taxes based solely on their sales in the state. Along with few regulatory burdens, Colorado’s corporate income tax rate of 4.63 percent is one of the lowest and most competitive tax structures in the nation.

Metro Denver is the third most prepared city in the U.S. for the transition to the digital economy according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. From start-ups to major tech giants, nearly 11,000 technology companies are now located in Colorado, including global corporations AT&T, DISH Network and Arrow. Google and ibotta also have a major presence in Colorado.

And it’s not just major companies either. A new digital technology company is launched every 72 hours within the state.  Given Colorado’s culture of collaboration, it’s easy to see why it has become a center of innovation and entrepreneurial activity.


Colorado’s unprecedented cybersecurity industry growth is fueled by an unparalleled level of cybercriminal activity that targets individuals and institutions alike. With the creation of the National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) and Colorado-based companies like Optiv and Logrythm, the state’s cybersecurity sector is second only to those of Maryland and Virginia. Some 21 companies in the Rocky Mountains region are among the top 50 cybersecurity companies in the US, with 12 in Colorado. This includes the number one firm—root9B, a cybersecurity consulting and operational support company with headquarters in Colorado Springs and regional offices across the country.

“Cybersecurity is an essential element of our strong technology and information industry, providing protection and well-paid jobs for Coloradans,” Copeland explained. “Colorado’s success in this booming industry is due, in part, to the vision of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who led the creation of the NCC in Colorado Springs in 2016.”

Today, there are approximately 85,000 people in Colorado working in the cybersecurity industry, and nearly 100 cyber-focused businesses operating in Colorado Springs and Denver alone. According to Burning Glass, a company that analyses the job market, Colorado is among the country’s leading states for cybersecurity jobs on a per capita basis, alongside Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland.

Colorado’s popularity as a cyber hub is rooted in its highly educated workforce and the market’s well-paid jobs. Entry-level workers with a relevant college degree, for example, can earn annual salaries between $55,000 and $65,000, while workers with five to 10 years of experience in the industry can earn between $80,000 and $100,000 a year. Add a security clearance to that level of education and experience, and salaries in the industry can easily approach $200,000.

Colorado continues to cultivate the workforce to support this growing industry. As such, several Colorado institutions are now offering cybersecurity certificates and degree programs. The University of Colorado, for example, offers a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity engineering and graduate-level cybersecurity certificates in behavioral sciences. What’s more, four local institutions are National Security Agency certified Centers of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance—the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the Air Force Academy, Regis University and Colorado Technical University.

Through its tireless commitment to AI industries, the state of Colorado has become a hub for hi-tech industry and cybersecurity—one that is set to continue expanding with no end in sight.

To discover how to be a part of this thriving sector in Colorado, visit or call 303.892.3840.


Telecommunications company Centerline Solutions has established itself as a leading player in the technology infrastructure industry by designing, building and maintaining wireless networks for clients all over the country. The company excels at driving cutting-edge innovation, developing areas like 5G, small cells and high-speed fiber. Centerline Solutions has shown exceptional growth, growing nearly 300% from 2014-2016, and earning the honor of being named a Top Telecommunications company (#18) by Inc. 5,000.

Launched in 2011, Centerline Solutions now employs over 300 people and has outgrown its facilities in Golden, Colorado. But the company remains committed to staying in Jefferson County, a location to which it attributes much of its success.

“Jefferson County has an innovative atmosphere with a highly specialized talent pool that has allowed Centerline to grow and succeed,” said Charles Kennamer, SVP Strategy at Centerline Solutions. “We are proud to be part of the community and an industry leader that contributes to the economic vitality of the area.”

Part of the Denver metropolitan area, Jefferson County sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and offers both the diverse geographical setting and the unmatched quality of life that the State of Colorado has become known for. Forward-thinking, urban communities blend seamlessly with picturesque mountain towns, offering the best of both worlds in close proximity. Over 300 days of sunshine, as well as superior access to public lands and outdoor recreation, make it a sought-after location—and an easy sell to potential employees.

The county is home to some of the world’s most successful companies in a wide range of industries from advanced technologies to biosciences, beverage production and outdoor recreation. It is also teeming with startups and entrepreneurs that benefit from the expertise of leading industry peers like Lockheed Martin, CoorsTek and MillerCoors Brewing Company.

There are four key reasons companies, whether starting out or Fortune 500, find a platform for growth and opportunity in Jefferson County:

  • The county offers a strategic location just a short drive from Denver International Airport, a major airline hub with more than 200 nonstop destinations across the world. Jefferson County is also connected to key interstates, a regional airport with round-the-clock U.S. customs operations, and across metropolitan Denver through an expansive public transit system.
  • Jefferson County offers a highly educated workforce groomed locally from the start. The county boasts a nationally acclaimed K-12 school district and four local institutes of higher education, including the Colorado School of Mines, which ranks as the number one engineering school in the U.S. Thanks to its impeccable education system, Jefferson County has grown to encompass the third-highest concentration of tech-workers in the nation.
  • Jefferson County is dedicated to providing a pro-business tax environment that rewards investment, growth and innovation. The county serves as an Enterprise Zone and works with both local and state governments to provide a plethora of tax credits and other resources to benefit every stage of business.
  • Jefferson County’s impressive commercial real estate selection includes two dozen business parks, such as the Coors Technology Center. Thanks to Centerline Solutions’ recent growth spurt and subsequent move, Coors Technology Center now has a 51,000-square foot “Class A” office/warehouse facility available with numerous amenities and best-in-class infrastructure catering to modern industry. Other available sites range from turnkey office spaces to build-to-suit flex construction sites with manufacturing and warehousing capacity.

In short, Jefferson County provides companies with a business-friendly location to accelerate growth, while providing employees and their families with an impeccable quality of life that exemplifies the Colorado lifestyle.

The Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation (Jeffco EDC) has been supporting business expansion and retention in the county for over 60 years. The organization is well-versed in site selection services and has a long tradition of providing global enterprises with the best possible options for growth and success. We invite you to learn more about our services and what makes Jefferson County the ideal location for your next business move. Visit and explore the gateway to Colorado living and working at its best.