Colorado’s key industries exist for the same rea- sons Coloradans choose to settle here. From its craggy peaks to its wide-open plains, Colorado’s incredibly di- verse 67 million acres are irresist- ible to adventurers and innova- tors. In that second category are industry leaders to whom the state’s natural resources are not only aesthetically attractive but economically beneficial. Thanks to its central geography and wide array of environs, Colorado is well suited to a number of key in- dustries and business sectors, and it shows. In 2015, Colorado was ranked No. 2 on NerdWallet’s list of most entrepreneurial states, and Forbes ranked Denver No. 3 on its list of easiest cities in which to find a job. Colorado’s central location—smack- dab in the middle of the country means its exports are easily accessible across the globe.
Huge swaths of open land and low energy costs allow companies to use innovative technology to improve their processes and products. Natural resources, like the constant wind on the plains, have allowed companies like Vestas to make advancements in wind turbine technology. In 2015, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the wind industry employed over 7,000 people in Colorado, and advancing developments mean the number of jobs is on the rise. Eight of the U.S.’s top aerospace contractors have significant operations in the state, including Ball, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing. So it’s no surprise that some of the best-known NASA projects, like the Hubble Space Telescope, have Colorado roots, too. The wide-open west is an ideal location for companies to develop aerospace technologies, and it doesn’t hurt that Colorado is centrally located—or that its capital city is nearly 5,300 feet above sea level. There are more than 400 aerospace firms that have set up shop in Colorado. Strategically located on the 105th Meridian—equidistant from Frankfurt, Germany, and Tokyo, Japan—Denver is perfectly suited to serve the growing global technology market. Colorado has long been home to heavy hitters like Oracle and IBM, and its universities’ phenomenal technology pro- grams. Because of these nationaly-ranked programs, the number of homegrown tech talent is continually growing.
Nearly 30,000 Coloradans are employed by the electronics industry, and according to numbers from WiserTrade in 2014, electronics exports grew by over 55 percent between 2009 and 2013. Colorado attracts visitors and residents with this often-cited forecast: over 300 days of sunshine annual- ly. That’s great for outdoor enthusiasts, but it also means the state is prime real estate for cultivating energy and natural resources. The plains east of the Rockies are rich with oil and natural gas, but many of the 6,000 energy firms in the state are committed to researching alternative energy sources, too. In fact, Colorado ranked No. 4 on the U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index in 2014, and it’s in the top 10 for per capita solar power generation. These energy innovations require lots of brainpower, too, which is why energy (both private enterprise and government fund- ed programs, like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden) employs nearly 150,000, according to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
The American West is alive and well in Colorado. With millions of acres of farms and ranches, the Centen- nial State exports billions of dollars’ worth of food, beer, and wine each year. The beer and wine industries are bolstered by perfect growing conditions in Colorado’s Western Slope region for finicky crops like hops and grapes. As a result, ac- cording to the Brewers’ Association, Colorado’s 280-plus craft breweries produce over 1.75 million barrels of craft beer annually. Colorado’s diverse industries con- tribute to Colorado’s vibrant and robust economy and make Colorado one of the most outstanding places to live and work in the US