The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) hosted its 11thAnnual Meeting and Awards Luncheon Thursday to celebrate metro Denver’s economic achievements and regional cooperation in the previous year. The event took place at the Seawell Grand Ballroom of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
“In 2014, our economy experienced one of our greatest growth periods,” said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC. “Multi-millions of dollars in new hospitals, transit, DIA, and commercial building helped to rank us among the top states for infrastructure construction – a good sign to national site selection consultants that we are a region with vision.”
Mike Matthews, Co-Chair of the Metro Denver EDC’s Executive Committee and Wells Fargo’s Market President for Colorado, highlighted several ways the region is “navigating new frontiers” in innovation, global connectivity, cutting-edge industry, economic growth, and synergy within the business community.
“Our region certainly had a banner year in 2014 with several big-league headquarters expansions, the opening of the satellite USPTO office, and a new nonstop to Panama,” said Matthews. “None of this would be possible without the financial support of our business community, which has again stepped forward to fund several, crucial initiatives over the next five years.”
Matthews thanked those investors in attendance for their ongoing financial support—to the tune of nearly $8 million in the next five years—to advance the region’s aggressive economic development agenda. With this vital funding, he said the Denver Chamber and the Metro Denver EDC will tackle issues crucial to the state’s competitiveness, including I-70 improvements, water issues, and tax policy.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper attended the luncheon and addressed the sold-out crowd of 500 area business and economic development leaders.
The Metro Denver EDC’s six major initiatives to expand the region’s economy are supported by its investors and economic development partners. Leadership from the organization’s Executive Committee and Board of Governors presented several awards at the luncheon to honor extraordinary efforts and investment in the region’s economy:
Special Recognition Awards honored two area business leaders whose exemplary work has significantly enhanced economic development activity in the metro Denver region:
Sueann Ambron, retiring Dean of the University of Colorado Denver School of Business, received accolades for her work to implement curriculum and courses at CU-Denver that closely align with Metro Denver’s industry cluster strategy and the workforce needs of area companies.
Phil Washington, general manager of the Regional Transportation District, received recognition for his efforts to streamline processes, seek new ideas, and pursue alternative funding mechanisms in order to keep the region’s FasTracks program moving forward.
The Chairs’ Award paid tribute to the dedication and efforts of John Armstrong, president of Enserca, to advance Colorado’s balanced energy economy. Armstrong’s work and financial backing created the annual Colorado Energy Expo in Denver. This year’s event, which is free to the public, will take place on May 13 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The Metropolitan Cooperation Award recognized four individuals whose collective work to develop and submit an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office resulted in the selection of Denver as one of four new satellite offices. Those receiving awards included: U.S. Senator Michael Bennet; John Posthumus, shareholder with Sheridan Ross; Monisha Merchant, former senior policy advisor to Sen. Bennet; and Pam Reichert, vice president of the Metro Denver EDC.
Deal of the Year Awards lauded three companies that created significant economic impact in the region through new job creation and capital investment. Three companies received awards for placing new headquarters operations—along with hundreds of new jobs—in metro Denver in 2014:
Ardent Mills, a new, independent joint venture that combined the milling operations of ConAgra Foods, Cargill, and CHS, placed its newly formed corporate headquarters in Denver. With $4 billion in annual revenues, the company will eventually employ 200 people in the region.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems located a new Commercial Space headquarters on its campus in southern Jefferson County. The company is moving 350 jobs from Newtown, Pennsylvania and will hire several hundred additional staff locally in the years to come.
Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company will place the North American headquarters of its fast-growing business solutions division in Denver. The company will be the anchor tenant at Peña Station, a new 400-acre, sustainable development near DIA along the new FasTracks East Line.
Janet Fritz is the senior director of marketing and technology for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.