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State of Colorado

Colorado Office of Statewide Defense Initiatives





The Office of Statewide Defense Initiatives is located within the Colorado Office of Business Development. It was established in 1993 as a response to the economic impacts on the state as a result of downsizing at the Departments of Defense and Energy. In January, 1996 the office was expanded to include the vast aerospace industry located in Colorado. The office provides a statewide, comprehensive approach to the issues surrounding defense and energy downsizing, facility redevelopment, worker training, space opportunities and the federal and state policies which influence these issues. The office advocates on behalf of the defense, space and energy related industries and their workforces located in the state. The office also provides support to the Defense Conversion and Retention Council, the Colorado Space Business Roundtable, and the U.S. Space Foundation located in Colorado Springs.

Colorado is proud of its military heritage and the strong support it provides for our country's military installations and defense related corporations. Several military and energy facilities are located in this state which is more noted for its winter skiing and summer rafting than its strong defense community. These facilities include Buckley Air National Guard Base in Aurora, Fort Carson Army Installation, the Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base Complex in Colorado Springs, the Department of Energy Projects Office in Grand Junction and the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site in Jefferson County. In addition to these facilities, four military bases in Colorado have been closed or significantly realigned - Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Adams County, Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Lowry Air Force Base in Denver and Aurora and Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora. The Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site is devoted entirely to cleanup and not to the manufacture of nuclear weapons. The Pueblo Chemical Depot is limited in its activity to the safe storage of chemical weapons and the destruction of these weapons by the year 2004. The loss of jobs at these sites has been significant and will have an impact on state and local economies for at least the next decade. In addition to the loss of these facilities, cuts in defense contracting and the resultant direct and secondary job losses impacts the profit and loss statements of corporations and the social fabric of communities.

Despite this significant downsizing, the Colorado economy has continued to grow and defense spending has been a significant part of the state's economy. The federal government spent over $19 billion in the state during Fiscal Year 1995 and DOD spending was $4.2 billion. Most of this spending is reflected in military and civilian salaries and procurement (including contracts) and is concentrated in four counties along the Front Range - Adams, Arapahoe, El Paso and Jefferson. Jefferson County leads in the procurement area due to the presence of major defense contractors in the area and El Paso County in salaries, due to the number of military facilities located in the Pikes Peak region.

The rapid redevelopment of the facilities in Colorado closed by the Departments of Defense and Energy is a high priority for the state. While some of these properties will be involved in extensive cleanup processes for the next several years, others provide prime real estate and development opportunities. The state and local communities are working together to ensure that the transition from federal facility to commercial venture maximizes the economic opportunities available and creates quality employment for a local workforce. Limited grant funds are available to communities to assist them in their redevelopment efforts at closed facilities.

Over the past two years the Office of Statewide Defense Initiatives and the Governor's Defense Conversion and Retention Council in cooperation with the Colorado Economic Development Commission have been able to provide small incentive grants to a number of small and medium sized Colorado businesses. These grants are to be used for the conversion of defense or energy technologies to commercial applications and must be used as leverage dollars to obtain other funding. In addition, companies who are awarded these grants must show that the conversion projects assist in the retention of defense workers or allow them to hire new employees as the conversion project progresses.

Since 1988, the Department of Defense and Congress have closed over 250 military bases around the country. Colorado has experienced three base closures or realignments during this time frame - the Pueblo Chemical Depot in 1988, Lowry Air Force Base in 1991 and Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in 1995. In addition, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was closed prior to 1988. To prevent further closures of military and energy facilities in Colorado, the state has worked closely with communities to highlight the importance of these bases, not only to the state's economy but to our nation's security. Although further base closures have not been proposed, there is little doubt that continued downsizing will cause the Department of Defense to look at closing additional bases within the next ten years. The state will continue to work with the communities to ensure that when the next round of base closures is announced, Colorado bases will not be on the list.

The Defense Conversion and Retention Council was appointed by the Governor of Colorado for the purpose of gathering information on the defense industry in the state and evaluating the public and private sector resources for responding to defense conversion and retention issues. The Council reports to the Governor on a yearly basis with recommendations for implementing a coordinated state response and provides information and advice to federal and state agencies and private industry. The Council also assists with the implementation of recommendations made in previous reports. The Council is made up of individuals who represent private industry, labor, the military and communities impacted by defense downsizing.

The Colorado Space Business Roundtable was established in 1994 for the purpose of providing a forum to the aerospace and defense industry in Colorado, allowing them to network and share mutual concerns. This business and professional organization has been expanded to include the military and commercial space industry, academia and telecommunications. Membership in the Roundtable is open to all interested individuals and corporations. The Roundtable meets approximately six times per year for discussions on financing, sub-contracting, new technologies, legal issues in space and legislation impacting the industry.


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last modified 1/02/96