New projects equal job growth for Northern Metro

From I-25 to U.S. 36, cities see employment options on the rise

Posted 8/20/18

Amazon’s new fulfillment center and warehouse is only the start when it comes to jobs in the Metro North area. Local economic development officials say there are plenty of new jobs on paper coming …

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New projects equal job growth for Northern Metro

From I-25 to U.S. 36, cities see employment options on the rise

Posted

Amazon’s new fulfillment center and warehouse is only the start when it comes to jobs in the Metro North area.

Local economic development officials say there are plenty of new jobs on paper coming to the area — and plenty of room for more.

“Amazon continues looking to fill jobs,” said Adam Krueger, Thornton’s assistant director of Economic Development. “Then we’ve got Summit Entertainment and the Hilton Garden Inn opening along 144th. We have Top Golf along Highway 7 and they are saying it should open late spring of next year. So we have a lot going on in Thornton.”

National retailer Amazon announced plans to open a warehouse 144th and Interstate 25 back in June 2017, and they opened the center in July. Although the operation relies heavily on robots to sort goods in the warehouse, the company is in the process of hiring 1,500 year-round full-time employees. That number is expected to rise as the company ramps up with part-time help annually during the holidays.

But just south of the Amazon warehouse, national mall developer Simon is preparing to open on Sept. 27 and the mall and the retailers that will fill it are looking for 500 employees.

“I think people want to work close to where they live and so many people are moving into this area, this a great opportunity for North Metro people to work without having to commute,” said Josh Kalkhorst, general manager of the outlet mall. “Hopefully, people will be as excited to work at our mall as they will be to shop at it.”

Meanwhile to the west, Ball Aerospace is looking to expand their operation in Westminster’s Westmoor Technology Center through 2022, with a need for roughly 350 advanced manufacturing workers.

Neighbor LGS Innovations is also expanding, looking for 50 more highly skilled and trained engineers specializing in radio, wireless and cybersecurity.

“U.S. 36 is a technology corridor. I think that’s well known,” said Westminster Economic Development officer Chris Gray. “And then along Interstate 25, where you have Digital Globe and Trimble. So that’s what we are trying to draw in.”

Part of it has to do with available land for new business but part of it is available workforce.

Adams County represents only 17 percent of the Metro Denver area’s 1.7 million person workforce in 2017 according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s 2018 labor force statistics. With 216,302 employable adults — both currently employed and unemployed — only Douglas County holds a smaller share of the area’s workforce.

However, a larger share of that Adams County workforce is currently unemployed — 3.1 percent for Adams County compared to Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson and Denver counties that all range around 2.5 percent.

It’s still ridiculously low compared to a national 4 percent unemployment rate but it means that Adams County still has workforce to burn compared to its neighbors.

And combined with the unemployed workforce in nearby Arapahoe and Jefferson counties, it means that developments and new businesses in the Metro North region can draw from 60 percent of state’s unemployed ranks and almost 54 percent of the total Metro Denver labor force.

Gray said Westminster is focusing on providing primary employment.

“It’s a broad umbrella category that includes technical and management jobs,” he said.

That’s true across the city, he said.

“Of course, we have the new Westminster Downtown being developed along the U.S. 36 corridor and that will have retail and housing but there will certainly be space for primary employers. We are working on some possibilities there for some technology or management organizations. So it certainly is part of that high tech corridor.”

Second jobs

Meanwhile, managers and retailers at the new Denver Premium Outlets said they’re offering jobs for people looking for different hours and second jobs.

“We have an opportunity to offer people a second career or an entry-level career or a career change,” said Jolene Bracy, director of marketing and business development for Simon. “And I think that we are new and fresh and exciting has a big play in what we can offer.”

The mall will have room for 80 retail outlets and many of them were on hand at an Aug. 17 job fair. General manager Kalkhorst said the job fair opened at 9 a.m. and there was a line of people waiting to get in.

“I think we’re going to get a really good representation of what’s available,” Kalkhorst said.

Pamela Nisbet will the manager at the Hugo Boss outlet when the store opens in September. Nisbet, looking for 10 people for her store, relocated to the Thornton store from San Marcos, Texas. Texas has a higher unemployment rate than Colorado, so she said she’s having to get used to the conditions.

“It’s a learning curve,” she said. “It hasn’t affected me yet. I suppose it will affect me if I can’t hire anyone, but I think we’ll do okay.”

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