F-35 Fighter Contract Vital to Colorado’s Defense Economy

Originally published here at the Denver Business Journal on November 25, 2016

The vital role that the defense sector plays in Colorado’s economy could expand in the near future if elected leaders, regardless of party or ideology, stand up for a new, fifth-generation jet fighter that already has a solid economic footprint in our state. Colorado business leaders recently learned firsthand how critically important this is when we had the rare opportunity to “fly” the cockpit simulator of the F-35 Lightning II.

The F-35 is the fifth-generation fighter jet that is enhancing America’s ability to own the skies. Ball Aerospace in Westminster is home to an exciting high-tech manufacturing facility that manufactures and tests antenna systems for the fighter. The company expects to manufacture nearly 50,000 antennas for the program in the next 25 years.  

We civilian business types, whose closest engagement with a jet fighter was the models we played with as kids, gained a deep understanding, from a pilot’s perspective, of how this aircraft is the most lethal and survivable strike fighter jet ever built.

We took two important lessons from this landmark event. First, how vital it is that America makes the F-35 a defense-funding priority in order to have an agile asset that can literally create air dominance in any environment and, as a result, meet the growing and evolving threats the nation faces in the 21st century. Equally important, we were reminded how Colorado’s energetic and expanding economy is intertwined with a strong and growing defense sector. Indeed, there are strong and sustained efforts to advocate for basing some of the new fighters here in Colorado.

Many Coloradans aren’t aware of the broad and deep economic benefit that Colorado derives from Department of Defense activity. In fact, adding up direct and indirect jobs, defense is the third-largest industry in the state, matching agriculture. Total DOD-related employment represents 5.2 percent of the state workforce, or 170,000 jobs, accounting for $11.6 billion in total labor earnings. This accounts for 6.5 percent of the Gross Regional Product (GRP).

The F-35 program is no exception.  Throughout the state, the fighter has 22 suppliers in Colorado and supports 750 direct and indirect jobs, providing an annual economic impact of $60 million throughout the state.

One of the key aspects of Colorado’s attractiveness for military-oriented jobs such as those at Ball Aerospace is our growing and well-deserved reputation as a magnet for high-tech workers. While many assume that the smaller tech startups are the most important magnet for these workers, defense-oriented jobs are attracted by – and attractive to – these men and women. A study released last year by the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs detailed the vibrant synergy between direct military activity and related companies that work with the defense sector. The report specifically cited the “crossflow” between DOD and private industry and calling it a “self-reinforcing relationship that concentrates talent, productive capacity and innovation.”

The report also underscored that Colorado’s private sector technology based companies provide a stable and reliable base for DOD that helps weather the ups and downs of the lifecycles of products and technologies.

Colorado is a vital, fertile location not only for defense jobs but for private-sector companies and entrepreneurs who work with the military. This is the fruit of years of bipartisan work to demonstrate that Colorado is second-to-none as a location to grow high-quality jobs at exciting, innovative companies. With programs such as the F-35 and other cutting-edge defense assets earning support, Colorado can continue to be an indispensable player in America’s national security – to the lasting benefit of our nation and our economy. 

Jeff Wasden, President and CEO
Colorado Business Roundtable (COBRT) 

Manufacturing Means Jobs in Colorado

[This op-ed was originally published here in the Reporter Herald on August 18, 2016.]

In Colorado, we are known for many things: beautiful mountains, unbeatable skiing, world-class dining and breathtaking national parks, to name a few. However, what doesn't get enough recognition is our manufacturing sector, a powerhouse essential to our Rocky Mountain economy.

How important exactly is manufacturing to our state's economy? One of the best measures of an industry's contribution to an economy is its exports. In 2013, exports in Colorado's advanced manufacturing sector totaled $4.8 billion. That accounted for 93 percent of Colorado's exports.

As president of the Colorado Business Roundtable, it is my responsibility to understand what industries, policies and trends are driving the Colorado economy. Over the last few years, our economy has performed well compared to the rest of the nation. We have seen decreases in the unemployment rate, increases in our GDP and an incredible tourism boom, all of which have marked Colorado as a leader in economic recovery following the Great Recession.

Despite these gains, we must not forget the importance of one of the largest forces behind our economic success — manufacturing. That sector can propel our economy and job growth even further, in tandem with our tourism and business sectors. New manufacturing plants have a ripple effect; the creation of one job within a manufacturing plant leads to the creation of several more.

Consider a technology manufacturer in Denver selling its product across the United States; that income not only creates direct jobs at the factory itself, but it also creates jobs at the company that sells utilities to the factory with indirect jobs. It also provides induced jobs at gas stations, grocery stores and retail shops as all of these job holders spend their increased disposable income within the Colorado community. Each manufacturing job at that plant in Denver created about 2.5 additional jobs in other sectors of the economy. In the past year alone, Colorado manufacturers were responsible for creating an estimated 43,615 jobs.

These manufacturers are not necessarily giant corporations; many are small businesses, with less than 500 employees. Currently, there are 5,900 companies in Colorado that work in advanced manufacturing, of which 5,700 export. Of those that export, 88 percent of manufacturers are small or medium-sized employers.

These small businesses are what define our communities and local economies. They are owned by hard-working Coloradans, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Supporting manufacturing in Colorado isn't just supporting our economy; it's supporting small business and the citizens who own those businesses.

In 2015, manufacturing employment surpassed the 2015 forecast by the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business, making it the fifth consecutive year of gains. Let's make 2017 its sixth year. In 2015, real GDP in manufacturing grew by 3 percent year-over-year, making it the eighth fastest-growing industry in Colorado. These numbers show manufacturing's serious economic impact to our state.

Let's keep growing Colorado. Grow manufacturing, grow our economy.

 

Jeff Wasden is the president of Colorado Business Roundtable.

 

Presidential Candidates Should Follow Denver’s Leadership Overseas

[This op-ed was originally published here at The Colorado Statesman on May 17, 2016.]

Now that both parties have decided on the presumptive nominees for the 2016 presidential election and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make their case to Coloradoans, it is easy to find the stark differences between them on any number of issues — from terrorism to trade to taxes. In a highly partisan campaign environment, it can seem near impossible to find common ground. But there is one thing that all the candidates can and should agree on: the vital importance of strengthening America’s global leadership.

This may be an unusual question, but what does Nepal have to do with the presidential race?

After last year’s devastating earthquake, a young woman, Laxmi, was left to die. Suffering from a broken back, legs and pelvis, she was pulled from the rubble and transported to a medical center. Her injuries were severe, but treatable. Due to the lack of medical supplies, though, there was little that could be done. She was sent back to her destroyed village with no hope of recovery. It was in that village that Tom Dickey, a Fort Collins-based physician’s assistant, found her. Working with Project C.U.R.E., he had travelled to Nepal following the disaster and was able to provide lifesaving aid to countless victims, including Laxmi. Working with a local medical equipment engineer, Tom helped establish a post-operative rehab center for dozens of people who suffered traumatic injuries. Thanks to American generosity—Laxmi is able to walk again.

Tom’s story is a powerful one because it demonstrates on a personal level how Denver has long played an oversized role across the globe—and how what happens overseas directly matters to us here at home. Not only is Denver headquarters to international charities, but the Mile-High City is proud to host global companies like IBM, Intel, Cargill, and Lockheed Martin. They, as well as local industry leaders like CH2M have all invested heavily in Colorado.

The candidates should know that more than 710,000 jobs are supported by trade statewide—more than one in five—and with close to $8.4 billion in foreign exports last year, Colorado plays a central role in the world economy. Nearly 5,000 small and medium-sized Colorado businesses sold goods overseas, a number that is only likely to increase in the future. As these companies can attest, America’s customers are no longer our traditional allies in Europe and North America. In fact, over half of our exports now go to developing countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

We’re proud that Denver-based organizations like Project C.U.R.E. and the DaVita Village Trust not only provide humanitarian assistance overseas, but also help promote development that opens doors for economic growth and opportunity. Together with our U.S. government counterparts, like USAID, the Peace Corps and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, we help save lives and create stability overseas. As we confront growing challenges overseas from ISIS to Russia to the Zika virus, these are the civilian tools that our next president will need on their first day in the Oval Office.

Our development and trade efforts build peace and prosperity in places where it had been previously lacking. Not only do they reduce the risk of conflict and terrorism, Colorado companies—many which belong to the Colorado Business Roundtable and its affiliates—also foster relationships around the world to advance American interests and values. As countries move up the development ladder, investments by the U.S. are repaid many times over through improved business ties and expanded customer bases. This is not just a hypothetical—11 of our top 15 trading partners today were once recipients of U.S. assistance.

Calls from the campaign trail for isolationism or turning inward ignore today’s globalized economy and our increasingly interconnected world. We can no longer only count on our domestic customers to remain competitive. Denver businesses depend on strategic investments in development and diplomacy to open doors and create a climate to facilitate trade and investment. As our nation helps increase prosperity in the developing world, we expand our access to emerging markets and new consumers have the buying power to purchase American goods.

And our generals are the first to say that American military might alone, will not keep us safe from threats like pandemics, terrorism, weapons proliferation, and environmental disasters. No longer do the mountains or the plains insulate us from threats and changes overseas—now we must fully engage in what is happening in London, Jordan, and Indonesia. Only with strong American leadership can we help influence events internationally and ensure that the world remains a safe place for the United States to do business.

In November, Colorado voters will be going to the polls to choose the next commander-in-chief. What do we expect to hear from all the candidates? A clear vision for how they will use all our tools—development, diplomacy, and defense—to strengthen our nation’s role in the world.

Dr. Douglas Jackson is the President and CEO of Project C.U.R.E., the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries around the world. Jeff Wasden is the President of the Colorado Business Roundtable, a leading business organization that advocates for business development and a stronger Colorado economy. Both are members of the Colorado Advisory Council of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

Health Insurance Tax Provision Passes Real Cost to Customers

Colorado families depend upon a growing economy and a strong private sector to ensure they can meet their needs today and reach for their goals tomorrow. Small and medium-sized businesses are widely recognized as the engines that provide the thrust necessary for the economy to take off through innovation and employment opportunity.

When a tax or regulation targets those growing companies, it doesn't just hurt the entrepreneurs and owners: Whatever holds the businesses back also holds back their employees and the people who might have become employees.

That's why we are deeply concerned by the Health Insurance Tax provision within the Affordable Care Act. The Health Insurance Tax acts like a sales tax on health-insurance policies purchased in the market by individuals and employers. While the tax, when implemented, is supposed to be paid by the insurance companies, the real cost will be passed through to the customers who pay for the insurance.

It's pretty simple: when every insurance company is required to pay the same tax and their customers have no other alternative but to pay for the policies, the tax will be added to the cost of the policy. No insurance company is going to absorb the estimated annual cost of more than $500 per insured family per year. The insurance companies will simply pass it along as a price increase.

In many small businesses, $500 per employee would buy everyone a new computer or send everyone to a training session to learn about a new technique for working smarter or faster. Those are the kinds of investments that businesses make when they're trying to grow and become more effective in the competitive marketplace.

Targeting this tax at those very same small businesses means that they're being saddled with new expenses instead of being encouraged to invest for new opportunity. That starves them of the fuel needed to become those important engines of economic growth. Thank you for your time and consideration of these concerns we have about how the Health Insurance Tax will negatively impact Colorado’s companies, consumers and, ultimately, citizens.


Contact your legislators now about this issue. Submit a message to Senator Cory Gardner here or call 202-224-5941. Submit a message to Senator Michael Bennet here or call 202-224-5852. If you would like to pass this message along, we urge you to share it with the social share buttons below. 

An open letter to the Colorado General Assembly

Dear Members of the Colorado State Legislature,

Please, pump the breaks. Take a breath and do what we were all taught in elementary school, and “just say no.” The onslaught of anti-business bills being ran this year, many borne out of election-year politicking, is threatening the Colorado so many know and love. During the reason committee hearing on HB-1275, the tax haven bill, Metro Denver EDC Chair Tom Clark testified that this bill would set us back as a state and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Representative Priola mentioned that this bill would work against the direct efforts of Governor Hickenlooper and Fiona Arnold, Office of Economic Development and International Trade. 

Colorado was just listed as the number three state for business by the Wall Street Journal. While there is a lot to be celebrated, there are certainly warning signs and areas of concern. Number one on the list was Utah (again). Governor Herbert, Utah has made it a personal mission to remove burdensome, outdated regulations off the books (342 in one year), and the Olympics provided important infrastructure enhancements. Of significant note was the announcement on Feb 26th highlighting the creation of the newly formed Utah Chapter of Aerospace States Association. The South Metro Denver Chamber just hosted an economic development meeting on our aerospace industry, and Colorado Business Roundtable recently had Colorado’s Aerospace Champion Major Gen. Jay Lindell and Edgar Johansson from the Colorado Space Business Roundtable on its Connect and Collaborate radio. The aerospace industry in Colorado is vibrant, growing, and drives significant economic impact to the state. Is our state legislature willing to put that at risk knowing that Utah and other states would welcome any of our prime companies with open arms? 

During its Legislative Reception prior to the start of the session, COBRT President Jeff Wasden challenged the business community to stop asking legislators what are their five bills for the year (as each legislator can run five bills with some exceptions each year). Instead, the questions we should be asking are “What priorities do you have for this session?” and “How can you ensure the proper role of government to help Colorado families and businesses this year?” Instead, we get hit with the tax haven bill, equity pay bills, minimum wage bills, paid mandatory sick leave bills, and others. Couple those with proposed ballot initiatives like single-payer healthcare and statewide energy bans and it is no wonder business always feel under attack and playing defense. 

Colorado has evolved since the 80’s. The Metropolitan Revolution by Katz and Bradley highlights significant milestones in the evolution of the metro Denver region and the center-city hub—aggressive annexations, the rise of Denver International Airport, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, and FasTracks. Today, the Denver metro region is home to corporate headquarters for companies like DaVita, Ball Corp, Arrow Electronics, CH2M, Western Union, Level 3, Newmont Mining, and Dish. Our economy boasts a strong, diversified portfolio from bioscience, renewable energy, aerospace, financial services, health and wellness, creative industries, and engineering. We have an educated workforce, favorable climate, and amazing outdoors in which to recreate. 

The State of California has long been one of our strongest recruiting tools as overreaching policies have driven off company after company. We should all take note, because business is much more mobile, states are actively competing for companies, and policies matter. Let’s focus on what is important for our ongoing economic prosperity and wellbeing—finding conservative ways to fix our broken transportation funding, critical investments in infrastructure, ensuring all students have access to a quality education, and working with business instead of against business. 

Jeff Wasden, President, Colorado Business Roundtable
Robert Golden, President/CEO, South Metro Denver Chamber


Printed at The Colorado Statesman and Denver Business Journal 

   

Space Organizations Release White Paper: "Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space"

Space Foundation Contact:
Brendan Curry, Vice President - Washington Operations
202.618.3061

Space Organizations Release White Paper:
"Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space"

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 4, 2016) - Representatives from a coalition of 13 leading U.S. space organizations have produced a white paper entitled "Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space."

The coalition includes aerospace professionals from industry, academia and government, who joined together to outline issues every presidential and congressional candidate needs to know about space to ensure that space and space policy are a priority in the next administration.

For nearly 60 years, U.S. government and private sector investment and partnerships in space have been critical to the nation and our world. They make possible a $330 billion global space industry, establish new technologies, revolutionize national security, enable and extend our global communication networks, help us understand our own planet better and inspire millions of Americans to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Yet there still remain serious challenges to U.S. leadership in space that the next administration and congress will have to address. The white paper outlines the challenges that the U.S. space program faces, including unpredictable budgeting, foreign competition and workforce trends. In addition to detailing the challenges, the paper explores sensible policy recommendations to address and overcome them, actions necessary to continue our nation's leadership in space.

The paper was introduced today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and presented on behalf of the coalition by:

  *Dr. Sandra H. Magnus, executive director of AIAA
  *Elliot H. Pulham, CEO of the Space Foundation
  *Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Coalition members, in addition to AIAA, Commercial Spaceflight Foundation, and the Space Foundation, are: Aerospace Industries Association, Aerospace States Association, American Astronautical Society, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, Colorado Space Coalition, Satellite Industry Association, Silicon Valley Space Business Roundtable, Space Angels Network, Space Florida, and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.


Read the paper online at ensuringspace.org.


About the Space Foundation
Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium, in support of its mission "to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity." Space Foundation World Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere(r) and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. The Space Foundation has a field office in Houston and conducts government affairs from its Washington, D.C., office. It publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space CertificationTM and Space Technology Hall of Fame(r) programs, recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit www.SpaceFoundation.org

A bipartisan opportunity for improving federal regulation

By Jeff Wasden, President
Colorado Business Roundtable

In President’s Obama’s State of the Union address on January 12, 2016 he won a vigorous – and bipartisan – standing ovation with a few simple words about the economy and regulation.

“I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy,” the President declared. “I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut.”

The Colorado Business Roundtable (COBRT) agrees with President Obama on this point. The challenge now is to turn that clear statement of principle into action with real legislation that Congress can pass and the President will sign.

Regulatory reform is critical to our economic vitality. According to a 2014 study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in lost economic productivity and higher prices.

The COBRT has been active locally in working to pass the Regulatory Reform Act. Later this year, together along with the NFIB, we will host the American Opportunity Project and the Regulation Freedom Amendment which looks to rein in the current burdensome regulatory processes imposed by bureaucrats and allow for congressional oversight.

Can Congress come together and create legislation that generates bipartisan support and actually has some teeth in reducing burdensome regulation? There is real optimism this can be accomplished.  A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is currently attempting to develop such legislation. They are working on a proposal that would improve the process for developing new regulations that breaks the status quo and the regulatory mess we find ourselves in now. Regulations would then achieve their goal of protecting people and the environment, while cutting the red tape that makes it so hard for businesses to invest, hire and compete.

The draft proposal, the Regulatory Improvement Act, builds on recommendations made by a number of independent groups whose primary interest is in seeing that federal regulation works both effectively and efficiently. The Regulatory Improvement Act represents a major update of the 70-year-old process by which federal agencies write the regulations that affect Colorado’s citizens and businesses so dramatically.

For example, the proposal would require agencies that issue major regulations – those with an economic impact of $100 million or more – put a plan in place to assess whether the regulation is doing what it was intended do when it was issued. Quite simply, agencies have to answer the question: Is the regulation working?

Americans would also gain a bigger voice in the regulatory process. Today, agencies often propose major rules without giving much notice ahead of time, forcing everyone potentially affected to scramble in response. The process shortchanges the public, who may have good ideas to offer, and ultimately produces regulations that may not achieve their intended goals in the most efficient and effective way possible. The Regulatory Improvement Act would address this issue by requiring federal agencies to publish advance notice that they will be working on a new regulation that would have a major impact on the economy.

The bill would also require so-called independent agencies – like the SEC and Federal Communications Commission – to adopt the same kind of sound regulatory development practices that Cabinet agencies must follow. For example, right now, these agencies aren’t required to conduct a full and objective cost-benefit analysis when proposing a regulatory solution. Some do, but there is no guarantee that the agency will take the same time as say, the Department of Defense, to determine whether their proposal will achieve its objectives in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Colorado’s businesses are not opposed to all regulation. But, like the public, we believe that regulations should meet their intended goal of protecting people and the environment in the smartest way possible. Improving the process for issuing new regulations so that they meet their objectives, without creating duplication or unnecessary red tape is good public policy. The Regulatory Improvement Act would do just that, and the Colorado Business Roundtable believes such bipartisan reform could make a big difference.

Colorado Business Roundtable (COBRT) is a prominent advocate for proactive, positive legislation that strengthens the economy and allows businesses to grow and thrive in Colorado and the region. Through strategic alliances with great groups of industry leaders, chambers of commerce, educational institutions and governmental bodies, our goal is to improve the business environment, increase effectiveness, and expand the networks of our partners.

www.cobrt.com/radio
www.facebook.com/ColoradoBusinessRoundtable
twitter.com/ColoradoBRT

New Air Traffic Control Approach Needed for 21st Century

By: Colorado Business Roundtable President Jeff Wasde 

One year ago nearly 4.4 million passengers flew in and out of Denver International Airport during December. Whether visiting family and friends, traveling for work, or enjoying a ski vacation, most of these people did not give even a moment of thought to air traffic control. And that’s the way it should be.

Denver International Airport is the fifth busiest commercial airport in the United States, with 1,550 daily flights to more than 180 countries. There is a good reason for that: Colorado is home to some of the nation’s leading companies in diverse fields from aerospace to energy to biomedicine; we are also a major tourist destination. However, getting in and out of Colorado could be made safer and more efficient with proposed legislation that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, and specifically, modernize our nation’s astonishingly outdated air traffic control (ATC) system.

Flying remains the safest way to travel, but that might be in spite of our current national air traffic control system rather than because of it. Most Coloradans would be stunned to learn that some of the technology currently being used at our nation’s busiest airports is more than 50 years old, but sadly, that is the case. 

Antiquated equipment isn’t the only problem. The FAA currently can’t recruit, hire, train, and retain enough air traffic controllers to meet the needs of travelers and shippers. Further exacerbating the problem is that one third of the nearly 11,000 certified air traffic controllers are eligible to retire.

Congressional budget battles have made it difficult for the agency to help move the air traffic control system into the 21st century. Even when well-funded, the beleaguered FAA is stuck with an archaic procurement system. For example, upgrades to air traffic control systems that are scheduled for completion in the coming year were designed 18 years ago. What other technology-driven enterprise updates to equipment from the heyday of Windows 95?

We can solve this problem by putting the air traffic control system under new management – a not-for-profit organization that is independent of the federal government. 

Under this proposal, the FAA would retain safety and regulatory oversight while ATC services would be performed by an independent organization funded through transparent user fees based on actual operating costs. Financing would go toward priorities that deliver results for the flying public – not pet political projects. No longer could budget fights in Washington, D.C. threaten to shut down or reduce air traffic control services across the country.  

The U.S. air traffic control network must be modernized to better handle a growing volume of flights. How many of us have faced airport delays? Using the best current technologies, many of these delays could be reduced or eliminated, while creating efficiencies that allow investment in additional safety measures.

Handing control of air traffic management to a nongovernmental agency is neither a new idea nor untested. It’s an accepted practice around the world. The United Kingdom uses a model that has significantly reduced ATC-related flight delays. Canada is using more advanced technology to guide aircraft. Dozens of other countries have made this shift.

The proposed not-for-profit management of air traffic control would be governed by a board of directors representing key stakeholders: cargo shippers, general aviation users, air traffic controllers, airlines, the Pentagon, and the general public. The board would have a mandate to develop and operate a world-class system driven by high quality professionals and cutting edge technology – while maintaining safety and expanding access to users large and small. It would not be another government establishment with a novel name. 

None of us want to have to think about air traffic control when we’re at the airport. We certainly don’t want to hear the pilot come on the intercom and tell us we’re the twelfth plane waiting for takeoff. With an air traffic control system that provides better technology and more controllers, we won’t have to. And everyone will benefit. 

New Center Will Make Colorado a Leader in 3D Metal Additive Manufacturing Research

By TOM BUGNITZ
CEO
MANUFACTURER'S EDGE

When the right project meets the right people with the right motivations, great things can happen.  Personal agendas disappear, trust is built, resources mesh, and a common vision emerges that can benefit not just those involved, but the larger community too.  When this happens, it can be a model for how things can be done to move an entire state forward.

Such has been the case over the last two years, culminating as I sat in a conference room and watched the state’s Economic Development Commission allocate $2.5M to position Colorado as the premier center for advanced metal additive manufacturing.  OEDIT’s Advanced Industry Infrastructure Grant Program was the source of the funding, and this was by far the largest grant ever awarded through this program.

The “right project” will build a practical research center in Colorado that will provide testing, performance analysis, and materials knowledge about 3D metal printed parts, especially as those parts apply to aerospace and advanced manufacturing.  This is an area that is critical to pushing America forward in advanced manufacturing, and Colorado will be in the lead.  This project will produce tangible, useable results starting within the next few months, and with the infrastructure built by this grant well into the next decade.  In fact, work has already started in determining what and how to manufacture test parts, and the first analysis will begin shortly.

The “right people” were a team pulled together by Heidi Hostetter and Alicia Svaldi, the energy and brains behind Faustson Tool, one of the leading aerospace precision machine shops in the world.  Heidi, a force of nature on her own, convened a diverse group of organizations and people that included Faustson, with knowledge of precision machining and 3D metal additive manufacturing; the Colorado School of Mines and two of its star professors in materials and metallurgical science;  Lockheed Martin, represented by a distinguished materials engineer and former NASA researcher;  Ball Aerospace, contributing expertise in materials research and aerospace engineering;  and Manufacturer's Edge, the Colorado Manufacturing Extension Partner, bringing connections to NIST and the large community of small manufacturers who will also benefit from the research.  Lockheed Martin, Faustson, Colorado School of Mines, and Ball Aerospace stepped up not only with people and expertise, but money:  those four organizations matched the $2.5M with over $5M of their own money to get this center off of the ground.  To paraphrase the old joke, that isn’t contribution, that’s commitment.

The “right motivations” were simple and shared by everyone on the team:  make Colorado the leader for knowledge and expertise in how to make the best 3D metal additive parts in the world,  especially in the aerospace industry.  At every step of the process, as the project was being formed, everyone kept one goal in mind:  make Colorado companies, academia, and people the best there is in this field, and let the world know that Colorado is the place to come to be on the leading edge of this research and commercial application.

We believe that this is how things should work in pushing Colorado forward into advanced manufacturing.  Partners that include public and private companies, service organizations that support manufacturing, a major research university, and OEDIT, the economic development arm of the State of Colorado, all working together and contributing expertise, people, and money can build an asset that will bring benefits for years to come.  A multi-faceted team producing tangible results immediately and for the long-term, that help one of our key industries as well as manufacturing in general, can prove to the community that these partnerships can work, can produce results, and are wise and necessary investments.

I personally thank the entire team that pulled this proposal together, the Economic Development Commissioners, and Fiona Arnold, Executive Director of OEDIT and her entire AI team for their support, assistance, and willingness to invest in such an important project.  We are committed to making this a model for such partnerships, and we look forward to doing great things for this State and its manufacturers.

TOM BUGNITZ
CEO
MANUFACTURER'S EDGE
303.998.0303
tbugnitz@manufacturersedge.com
www.manufacturersedge.com

 

Homeownership Among Denver Millennials

By Stephen Stribling

As a parent of two adult children I am no stranger to Millennials, the largest age group in the U.S. with an estimated 83.1 million individuals. Representing more than one quarter of the nation’s population, Millennials are already having a dramatic impact on social, political and economic trends.  

In Denver, we are seeing a trend of Millennials increasingly delaying the purchase of a home. The city is currently experiencing one of the highest year-over-year gains in home values at 10.2 percent. However, the current Millennial professional does not earn enough to purchase a home in the metro Denver area. The city was also ranked No. 12 in Bloomberg's “The 13 Cities Where Millennials Can't Afford a Home.” There are four reasons why this is true in today’s market: the Great Recession of 2008-2009, stiff competition for jobs, student loan debt and a changing set of priorities. 

In the U.S., buying a home was long considered a milestone that symbolized financial success and a transition into adulthood. But as Millennials watched the value of their parents’ home drop drastically during the 2008-2009 housing bubble, many have grown wary of homeownership. For years, they were brought up to believe that housing prices never decreased. But in the span of just one year, they experienced firsthand housing values falling through the floor. As a result, many are putting homeownership on hold – even questioning it altogether. 

In particular, Denver Millennials are experiencing a unique dilemma. Now may be a great time to purchase a home when compared to the high cost of renting. However, the city’s desirability is also causing an influx of Millennials to relocate here, creating more competition for high-paying jobs. 

Another contributing factor is the hefty burden of student loan debt, which often can impede the requisite debt-to-income ratios required by many mortgage lenders. National student loan debt now tops $1 trillion

For the few Millennial professionals who can afford to make a down payment and are not carrying student debt, buying a home could be the right fit. One way to alleviate costs is to have roommates that can help contribute to the mortgage – an option that some of our Millennial clients consider. However, if student loans are still a concern, I would suggest paying down some of that debt first. 

While it is evident that external factors such as the housing plunge and increased competition for higher-paying jobs has off put homeownership among Millennials, the lack of interest may also stem from internal sources such as their evolving set of priorities. It was evident from a discussion with my children and their friends that traveling, purchasing the latest tech gadgets and saving for retirement are placed as much higher priorities than purchasing a home.

With today’s market, it’s understandable why Millennials are hesitant toward purchasing a home. However, trends are constantly evolving and what it is now, may not be what it is tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how the factors contributing to Denver Millennials’ ability to afford a home will evolve – for better or for worse – and how it will ultimately affect their attitudes toward homeownership in the future.

Stephen Stribling is a Financial Advisor with the Pelican Bay Group, Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver. He can be reached at 303-572-4889 or stephen.l.stribling@ms.com. 

The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives.  Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. Morgan Stanley and its Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee their accuracy or completeness. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.

Business and the Broncos Share Success Lessons

On Sunday, November 29, 2015, many of us were watching The Game. This particular NFL game was the Denver Broncos vs. the New England Patriots playing at Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High, but if you’re anywhere in the region, you could just call it The Game and we’d know what you mean. Over 75,000 fans attended in person despite snow and temperatures in the teens. You just can’t keep Broncos fans down, and by the end of the night, you couldn’t keep the Broncos down either. 

As expected, The Game was the main topic of discussion the next day at work. Well, the main topic besides actual work. Yet, the two blend so easily – a discussion about the challenges and successes of an underdog win applies to business as well as it does to professional football. Some of our colleagues weighed-in about how the Broncos win reminds them of business wins.

Choose the Right People with the Right Passions
Since John Elway took over as the Broncos’ team president in 2011, the Broncos have been an extremely well-run organization as evidenced by a string of four consecutive AFC West division titles (soon to be five), three playoff wins and one Super Bowl appearance. And, while the fans see the victories on Sundays, they don’t always appreciate the business principles that Elway and the Broncos bring to the organization. The business principle that has really improved the team is the leader’s ability to pick the right people for his organization. 
 
With Elway at the helm, the Broncos have emphasized finding the right types of players to fit their organization. These players had to have an extremely strong work ethic who loved playing football. For example, in 2012, they made the bold decision to bring in hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning as a free agent and draft Brock Osweiler as its quarterback of the future. Both players have a strong love for football (Manning’s work ethic and study habits are legendary, and Osweiler chose football as his sport despite getting scholarship offers to play basketball at Gonzaga).  Both moves have paid off handsomely, with Manning leading the Broncos to three straight division titles, earning one MVP award and one Super Bowl appearance, and Osweiler looking like the Broncos’ quarterback of the future and potentially the present. This is just one example, as the Broncos have strong leadership, work ethic and depth throughout its roster.

Brian Tibbets, International Operations Manager, CAP Worldwide

Keep Pushing Even When You’re Down
Watching a nail-biter of a game like the Broncos vs. Patriots really highlights some of the keys to success, both on the field and while running a business. Perseverance and having a reliable team are just a couple I can think of. Down by 14 against an undefeated championship team, in the cold and snow, and without our star player, the Broncos never gave up and kept playing their hearts out. Also, even without Peyton, they put their faith in Brock Osweiler and our defense, stuck with the coaches’ game plan and pulled off an amazing victory. Much like running a business, you need to keep pushing, even when you're down, and surround yourself with a reliable staff that will work together to accomplish your business goals.

Alex Villareal, IT Specialist, NUSS Professional Services Group

Combine Forces for Fluid and Crystallized Execution
Overtime at Mile High -- it’s 3rd and 1 on the Patriots’ 48 yard line, and the young Brock Osweiler steps up under center amid a snow globe of flurries. The breakout QB has stepped up to fill some of the biggest shoes in NFL, those of Peyton Manning, and has somehow managed to keep his team neck and neck with Tom Brady’s undefeated Patriots. Osweiler is not alone, however, as head coach Gary Kubiak looks on from the sideline. 

In the past weeks, Kubiak and Osweiler have been solidifying a tight execution of the Broncos new offensive strategy in Manning’s absence, working on how to read defenses and audible accordingly. Seconds before the game’s defining play begins, Osweiler reads the defense and opts for an audible. The head coach knows exactly what Osweiler is thinking and manages to flag down a ref for a time-out just before the snap.

While Osweiler was executing the offense exactly as planned with a vigor only a young buck could, Kubiak knew something he didn’t. The two convened on the sideline. After a quick chat and a pat on the back, Osweiler headed back to midfield, set his team, snapped the ball, and sliced through the Patriots’ defense with a handoff to running back Anderson for the game-winning touchdown run.

In psychology, Raymond Cattell coined two types of intelligence -- fluid and crystallized. Fluid intelligence is the capacity to think logically and solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge. Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use skills, knowledge, and experience. It relies on accessing information from long-term memory.

In order to win big games and solve complex problems, your brain needs both. Watching Osweiler is an embodiment of fluid intelligence, relying on reflex, athleticism, and improvisation. But Kubiak has been in the NFL for decades, even filling the shoes as the Denver Broncos QB from 1981-1983.  He has years of memories and experience to draw from -- crystallized intelligence. 

With respect to business, we can glean a few principles from this sensational game. You can’t win with only years of experience, and you can’t win with just sheer talent. You need a combination of the two.  That means depending on the young and old for their respective strengths and working together to reach a common goal, because if you want to win the Super Bowl, you’ve got to win it together. 

Tim Bungum, Creative Director, ICOSA Media

Don't Underestimate the Power of Discomfort
In business you must be able to weather the storm in bad situations: changing economies, different ideologies, etc., but it is through this perseverance where true victories are won. The Broncos were down 21-7 , with little success happening in the snowy conditions, and the Patriots were looking like they would remained undefeated. However, the Broncos showed their toughness and determination to never give up, and through their fight were able to win in overtime.

Adam Wallace, Account Executive, CAP Logistics

Bad Calls Are Part of the Game
“I don’t know, I didn’t watch the end.” This is how a colleague replied when asked about how he felt about the game. More than a few people turned off the game when the Broncos were losing and a comeback seemed unlikely. And that’s understandable – Sunday night after a long, holiday weekend, we all had things to do. But those who made the call to turn off the game might have regretted it once they heard about the big win. Bad calls are part of the game. The aforementioned colleague could have said, “Oh, the end of the game was amazing!” but he was honest that he didn’t watch it. We must admit when we make a questionable call, learn from it, and move forward. 

These are a few conversations around our shared office space. What are your thoughts on how this big game reminded you of business success? Share your comments below!