Boulder’s industry diversity – our mix of different industries such as IT, aerospace, natural products, bioscience and more – is a rare achievement and a distinctive economic advantage.  Most cities, especially those outside of major urban centers, are fortunate to have even a few well-established industries fueling their economies.  Boulder can make the case that almost a dozen industries are well-established here and have achieved a critical mass of productivity:

  • Aerospace
  • Beverages
  • Bioscience
  • Clean Energy
  • Creative Services
  • IT-Software
  • Natural Products
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Photonics
  • Research
  • Tourism

Boulder’s industry diversity – our mix of different industries such as IT, aerospace, natural products, bioscience and more – is a rare achievement and a distinctive economic advantage.  Most cities, especially those outside of major urban centers, are fortunate to have even a few well-established industries fueling their economies.  Boulder can make the case that almost a dozen industries are well-established here and have achieved a critical mass of productivity:

- Aerospace
- Beverages
- Bioscience
- Clean Energy
- Creative Services
- IT-Software
- Natural Products
- Outdoor Recreation
- Photonics
- Research
- Tourism

This diverse combination of industries is one of Boulder’s most important economic vitality strengths.  Each of these industries represents dozens if not hundreds of businesses, thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars of investment in our community.  The businesses in these industries range from startups to multinational enterprises and all sizes of companies in between.

A critical advantage of a diverse industry base is that if any one or two industries experience contraction or softening markets, other industries can offset that contraction and help stabilize the overall economy.  Dependence on one or two industries – putting all our eggs in one basket – makes a community more vulnerable to economic swings.

Quantifying Industry Concentration
To determine which industries drive their local economies, economic developers often use a metric called a “location quotient”.  A location quotient is a way to measure how concentrated an industry is in an area compared to the nation as a whole.

The Boulder Economic Council of the Boulder Chamber works with CU Boulder’s Business Research Division and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. to calculate location quotients for some of Boulder’s key industries.  Here’s how the concentration of jobs in four area industries compares to national averages:

IT-Software
Area employment: 11,614
Area companies: 920
Employment concentration: 3 times U.S. averageBioscience
Area employment: 5,089
Area companies: 166
Employment concentration: 4 times U.S. average
Aerospace
Area employment: 5,682
Area companies: 44
Employment concentration: 13 times U.S. averageClean Energy
Area employment: 4,551
Area companies: 290
Employment concentration: 4 times U.S. average

BEC Support for Local Industries
As these figures show, some of Boulder’s key industries have concentrations of employment that are significantly higher than most other communities in the U.S.  The critical mass achieved by our industries helps sustain Boulder’s economic vitality.  As productive industries like these thrive in an entrepreneurial ecosystem like ours they encourage new innovation, new technologies, and new company formation.

One of the highest priority economic vitality strategies of the Boulder Economic Council is to support and elevate awareness about Boulder’s key industries.  We actively participate in industry associations such as Naturally Boulder, the CO BioScience Assoc, the CO Space Business Roundtable, CO Photonics Industry Assoc, Outdoor Industry Assoc and others.  We serve on their boards and committees, sponsor and cohost networking programs with them, and help them track trends and new developments in their industries.

We raise awareness about Boulder’s industries by featuring them in economic research reports, and at events like the Boulder Economic Summit.   We highlight our industry diversity in media publications and on the Boulder Chamber and Boulder Economic Council websites.  We participate in international industry trade shows, advocating on behalf of local industries.

In 2018, BEC staff is on track to meet with over 130 Boulder companies representing a cross section of our key industries.  These proactive outreach meetings are held to learn from company leaders about their business development plans, to determine how the Boulder Chamber and BEC can assist with their plans, and to support Boulder’s productive industries one company at a time.

The work done by Boulder Chamber staff to support our industry diversity would not be possible without the support of our Boulder Economic Council investors, our Standing Strong leaders, and the entire Chamber membership.  Thank you!


 

Clif Harald is the Executive Director of the Boulder Economic Council, the economic vitality arm of the Boulder Chamber. He can be reached at (303)786-7567 or clif.harald@boulderchamber.com.

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