ACED celebrates 30 years on job

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As the Adams County Economic Development (ACED) organization celebrates its 30th anniversary, a former and the present director took a few minutes last week to reflect on the how much has changed over that time.

Northglenn Economic Development Manager Debbie Tuttle, who served as ACED’s executive vice president from 1988 to 2003, can still remember growing up in Adams County at a time when open fields pre-dated several landmarks, such as Denver International Airport and the Avaya building on 120th Avenue in Westminster.

She recalled growing up near the site of the former Northglenn Mall just west of Interstate 25 and 104th Avenue at the time when it was “the mall of the North and surrounding areas.”

“I remember the first time when the Burger King at 104th and Washington (Street) was actually built,” Tuttle said. “We didn’t have fast food when I was a girl and that was the first one that actually came here, so there have been some major transformations of Adams County since then.”

During her 15-year tenure at ACED, Tuttle said she worked vigorously to bring more high-paying jobs, employment centers and residential areas such as the Legacy Ridge development in Westminster and Fitzsimons Life Science District in Aurora.

“When I look at Adams County, I’m proud of all the diversification that it had because a lot of times what people knew us for the blue-collar, industrial areas,” Tuttle said. “We now have a very broad diversification of businesses and high paying jobs in a lot of different areas, so it’s really intriguing to see how the county has transformed over the years.”

Barry Gore, ACED’s current president and chief executive officer, said the organization is now working on attracting more retail businesses and employment centers to more areas of the county that will encourage people to live, shop and work within Adams County.

He said many Adams County residents commute to jobs located in other parts of the Denver-metro area but noted that some initiatives are already taking off to buck that trend, such as the opening of the new Cabela’s retail store near the Orchard Town Center and St. Anthony North Hospital’s emergency room in Thornton.

Gore said ACED is also working to bring more attention to what Adams County offers residents and visitors, such as Water World in Federal Heights and Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

“E-470 opened up a whole new corridor, and I think a lot of people don’t think about Adams County beyond what they see from Interstate 70 or 25,” Gore said. “There a lot of new development within the county that’s beyond what they can see from those two corridors, so part of what we have to do is tell the story of those areas.”

Gore and Tuttle also identified Denver County’s proposal for an aerotropolis at Denver International Airport and Front Range Airport’s continual effort to get Spaceport Colorado off the ground as a significant enterprise and benefit for the county, since it would attract more aerospace industry jobs and push more development into eastern areas of the county, such as Watkins and Strasburg.

“The potential for this redevelopment project in unincorporated parts of the county is huge, because we consider that the gateway into Adams County,” ACED senior vice president Tricia Allen said. “If we can get what we want or what we’re thinking of in that area, it’s going to be huge in terms of shaping the perception of Adams County as people move in and out along Interstate 25.”