In 2011, with community and elected official support, the Windsor Economic Development Department was formed. The department is currently made up of two economic development professionals who focus on primary employment, retail and being the business ombudsman (business advocates). Windsor’s growth has continued to increase exponentially in both residential and commercial for the past few years. The department continues its sound strategy for growth by not only on focusing on attracting new industry to the Town but also taking care of the existing businesses.
In the last eight years there has been some substantial economic growth in Windsor. Over $600 million in investment has been made, creating over 2,300 jobs that generates $132 million in payroll annually. Companies have acquired or built over 1.5 million sq. ft. of commercial space and there are still several commercial projects under way. In the past two years all our speculative space was consumed, but the good news is there is more currently under construction. Company giants like Vestas, Tolmar, Schlumberger, Columbine Health Systems, Woodward and Hexcel all call Windsor home.
Windsor now has 12 business parks and three commercial areas for development including areas as far north as Harmony Road. The Town has a lot of development going on in Downtown with several proposals currently being considered including the redevelopment of the old Windsor Mill, which should be open with three restaurants in July. The busiest commercial area of Town currently is our two-grocery store anchored centers and the western edge of Main Street. According to the land use comprehensive plan, Windsor still has over 7,000 acres of commercial property available for development and the capacity to grow to 100,000 people. The Town’s current population is estimated to be over 32,000 including last year’s residential growth. The Town has already administered 331 single family permits through April this year, which is over half the single-family permits that were processed in all of 2018.
As you would expect, traditional economic development activity such as attracting & retaining primary employers and attracting and retaining retailers were two of the leading functions of Windsor’s Economic Development office. The third economic development function of business ombudsman is unique to economic development but remains the most critical economic development role for the department. The Windsor economic development team serves as advocates for businesses through any of the municipal processes or development issues that a company may experience while locating or expanding in our community.
Windsor Economic Development also works with several external community partners to attract and retain companies, including but not limited to utility providers, workforce centers, higher education facilities, developers, real estate brokers, land owners chambers, small business development centers, libraries and the downtown development authority.
Windsor’s strategic plan plays a major role in the Town’s ability to successfully land and expand companies. The elected officials set the program for Town budget and staff last summer and the overwhelming focus on infrastructure. The Town is dedicated to spending resources and staff time on roads, water and sewer. Windsor is concentrating on being prepared for the growth coming to Northern Colorado. The state demographer’s office has Larimer and Weld County doubling in population by 2036. That’s another 500,000 people coming into the region due to net migration. The elected officials and Town leadership realize the growth is coming and are preparing for it through infrastructure maintenance and expansions.
The regional approach to economic development in northern Colorado has been happening behind the scenes for many years. All our economic professionals still operate by a code of ethics to basically not steal companies from each other and the sector partnership groups in health care and manufacturing remain strong and growing. However, recently the regional approach has just expanded in a couple of additional ways. The regional Business Retention and Expansion group was formed a couple of years ago and now meets monthly to focus on gaining knowledge and connections to better serve the existing industry in all northern Colorado. The counties now also have a regional marketing plan with talking points including a list of regional assets. This plan provides consistent fact-based messaging and promotion of our region from elected officials, municipal leadership and economic development professionals.
Director of Economic Development, Town of Windsor