Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation is pushing ahead with its Forward Jeffco program, with 558 new jobs anticipated so far during the next five years for the county, the EDC reports.
A first quarter report, revealed to the board of county commissioners during staff briefings last week, measured the EDC’s Forward Jeffco initiative for the first time — a program that intends to add 7,500 jobs to the county in five years.
The 558 job prospects are due in part to the attractions of a few out of state engineering companies and expansions of bioscience companies like Sorin Group USA and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. Lockheed’s national consolidation of operations is expected to bring 300 plus jobs that includes job relocations for current employees who may be moving to the area from places like Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Hamon Deltak, a mechanical engineering firm from Minnesota who opened a second office in Jeffco, will attract 120 jobs to the county over the next five years.
“This is the most relocation activity we’ve had out of our office in a very long time,” said Michelle Claymore, vice president of EDC. “We’ve had a really, really good first quarter.”
An economic report drafted by the EDC showed a tight industrial real estate market with a 1.90 percent vacancy rate for industrial warehouses. This offers a competitive market for companies moving out of Denver and into the burbs as pot growers and merchants begin to encroach on existing spaces, Claymore said.
“For industrial, everyone wants to be here,” she said. “We just have a really slow office market.”
Claymore reported that a lot of companies are heading to downtown Denver and taking the younger work force with them, known as the millennial generation.
The report read that millennials are looking for public transit, walkability, sporting events and inclusive environments. Citing Brookings Institution in their report, an independent research organization, Denver has become the No. 1 spot for millennials to work and live.
Claymore stated the migration to Denver is part of a cyclical trend that will see businesses and millennials moving back to the burbs.
“I think that’s something we really need to look at,” said Commissioner Casey Tighe. “Arvada’s light rail station is probably the most ready-made location of all light rail’s we’ve had so it will be really interesting to see when Arvada’s opens if a lot of millennials attract to an urban setting that’s outside of downtown.”
According to the EDC, Jeffco’s age distribution is 43 percent over the age of 45.
“We are the oldest county from an age standpoint and it seems like a lot of what’s happening is we cater to the older population, more and more urban renewals that have senior apartment complexes but we keep talking about wanting to be young,” said Ralph Schell, county administrator.
While the county will continue to work toward capturing a younger workforce, Claymore suggested that redeveloping old office spaces while making room for new ones is one way to attract more companies and people as less modern spaces contribute to the downtown migration.