In recent years you may have noticed an uptick in municipalities hiring their own economic development professionals. Like many other smaller communities, Windsor is no exception. As Windsor started to grow, both the community and Town Board wanted an economic development voice of their own. In 2009 the community formed an economic development committee to focus on current economic development efforts to determine which direction to take the town in the future. In 2010 the town took advantage of a community economic assessment provided by the State Office of Economic Development & International Trade. That assessment was led by a team of local economic development professionals who recommended the establishment of a dedicated economic development position. That professional was to focus on primary jobs, commercial and industrial development and continue efforts towards small business, retail development & the downtown area.
In 2011 the Town of Windsor formed a task force, facilitated by a consultant and Town staff. The task force members met and discussed economic viability of Windsor & future economic development in the Town. The end result was the creation of the Windsor Economic Development Department in April of 2011 with one full time employee. The Town Board continued their economic development efforts by authorizing a primary employer incentive guideline, an economic development website, funding to attend trade shows and created collateral material and other general marketing materials. In 2014 the Town Board continued their promotion of economic development by creating a $200,000 economic development incentive fund.
In the last six years there has been some substantial economic growth in Windsor. Over 300 million in investment has been made, creating over 2,000 jobs with average salary of $60,000. Companies have acquired or built over 990,000 sq. ft. of space. Windsor has a few speculative buildings coming on line in two of our nine business parks. Company giants like Woodward, Tolmar, Cargill, Schlumberger & Columbine Commons all call Windsor home.
With Windsor’s growth, which increased exponentially in both residential and commercial, it was clear the department needed more hands on deck to assist with not only attracting companies to Windsor, but maintaining our relationships with existing industry. Currently Windsor has two professionals in the department. In January of this year, an economic development specialist was added.
Attracting and retaining primary employers, as well as retailers, were two of the leading functions of Windsor’s Economic Development office. While these are traditional economic activities, the third leading function was a bit more unique to economic development. The department was to focus on being the Business Ombudsman. So what exactly is a Business Ombudsman? In the Town’s case, a Business Ombudsman means having an advocate for businesses through any of the municipal processes or development issues that a company may experience while locating or expanding in our community. This is Windsor’s most critical economic development role.
Economic developers also can’t attract and retain companies alone; it requires on-going partnerships with local workforce organizations and higher education institutions to create a desirable and plentiful workforce. Relationships with infrastructure providers are critical, as well as knowing who services your community and developing relationships with the providers of your gas, electric and telecommunications. We try to develop great relationships with real estate professionals, developers and land owners too. Economic developers rely on many partnerships with a community; they are all valuable resources to be successful.
Regionally, Northern Colorado has started to develop a greater presence in the state as well. There are two extremely successful sector partnership groups in health care and manufacturing. A sector partnership is an industry specific regional partnership led by business in partnership with economic development, education, and workforce development. Over 450 businesses are actively involved in sector partnerships across Colorado.
Northern Colorado will also be hosting a Regional Economic Development Forum on June 8, 2017. The Economic Development Council of Colorado will host the one day conference at The Ranch in Loveland and will draw about 150 economic developers, elected officials and leaders from several regions. Topics of Talent 2.0, sector partnerships and transportation will be discussed.
Town of Windsor
Economic Development Director