I visited Vicky Lea at the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (http://www.metrodenver.org/), which is an affiliate of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.
The objective of Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation is to contribute to the industry’s growth in the region (which covers the Front Range area, north of Colorado Springs and all the way up to the Wyoming border). Metro Denver EDC focuses on a number of key industrial clusters which are considered strategic to Colorado economic growth. These clusters include aerospace, aviation, biotechnology, IT, energy, beverages and financial services. Vicky Lea is the Director for Aerospace and Aviation at Metro Denver EDC.
Colorado Space Coalition (http://www.spacecolorado.org/) is an industry affiliate to Metro Denver EDC. The Colorado Space Coalition (CSC) is a group of industry stakeholders – including space companies, military leaders, academic organizations, research centers, and economic development groups – that cooperates in the region’s efforts to promote and advance the aerospace sector, market existing assets and carry out legislative advocacy.
Marketing and advocacy activities are supported with data that Metro Denver EDC has been consistently gathering since 2003 and which provide a year on year snapshot of all relevant aspects of the Colorado aerospace sector (http://www.metrodenver.org/industries/aerospace/).
Metro Denver EDC works closely with Colorado Senators and Congressional Delegation in seeking federal funds and influencing legislation that can be of benefit to the sector. The role of Metro Denver EDC and the Colorado Space Coalition is to identify areas of potential interest for the aerospace sector and provide the rationale and precise data to support action at a political level. This is particularly important when existing jobs are at stake, but also with regard to key legislation (such as ITAR reform).
Small satellites, applications, cyber technologies and space-related software development are some of the areas of potential significant growth. According to Vicky Lea, the single most important factor for the sector’s development is access to highly qualified workforce. Colorado has one of the most highly educated workforces in the country. Access to capital is also very important, particularly for small industry. Another key to space commercial development is cheaper access to space. This includes more, less-expensive possibilities for suborbital flight.
Regarding downstream applications, Vicky Lea points out that this is an area where natural synergies are emerging between traditional aerospace industry and non-aerospace advance technology industry. One example is UAVs. Vicky Lea sees a need to encourage a more strategic approach to promote these synergies as well as to connect end users and service providers.