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Offices in the sky create jobs on land
Photo courtesy: Sierra Nevada Corporation Facebook

By Joshua Pilkington

Sierra Nevada Corp’s presence at Colorado Springs Airport proves lucrative for city and state

When news of big business ventures make headlines in Colorado, it usually has to do with the state’s capitol city and the tech industry. Though Denver and the surrounding Metro area have become synonymous with tech expansion and growth over the past half-decade, it’s Colorado Springs that is the chosen site of a million-dollar venture.

In 2015 the Nevada-based Aerospace company Sierra Nevada Corp., announced plans to invest in a new 31,000 sq. ft. hangar to serve as a modification facility for VIP interior completions. The $88-million dollar project is set to get underway in Colorado Springs and, according to a 2014 study by Deloitte, could bring in as much as $5 billion to the Colorado economy.

The facility will serve as the anchor tenant at the new Colorado Aerospace Park at the Colorado Springs Airport and could bring in as many as 2,100 employees. The hangar complex bares the name of the Sierra Nevada subsidiary, Sierra Completions, and those employed there will be tasked with turning wide-body aircraft interior into flying offices with advanced communications and electronics for VIP customers.

“This is the first step in establishing a presence for Sierra Completions at the Colorado Springs airport and provides us with a facility to launch the business,” said Ed Topps, vice president – programs for Sierra Completions during the official announcement of the project in 2015. “We are in active discussions with a number of customers already and look forward to demonstrating the world-class design capabilities Sierra Completions will soon become recognized for around the globe.”

He added that Sierra Completions projects feature world-class engineering and design intended to turn aircraft interiors into an “office in the sky.”

Not only is the site prepared to host 2,100 employees under the same roof, but it also expected to add 150 jobs in the Colorado Springs area. It was that prospect for additional job growth in the area, that incentivized the city, El Paso County, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and the state to approve legislation to ease tax burdens on businesses operating at the airport and – specifically for Sierra Completions – businesses involved in upgrading aircraft.

“We were very pleased with the cooperation and the commitment brought to the table by state and local officials,” said Sierra Completions President Jon Burgoyne. “[They proved] they’re interested as much in the success of Sierra Completions as we are.”

An additional benefit to the Colorado Springs and southern Colorado region is SNC represents another company capable of employing trained, local personnel as they transition out of the military. With the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force base, Fort Carson and Cheyenne Mountain (NORAD) over half of Colorado Springs’ – and surrounding areas – payroll goes to U.S. Department of Defense employees. The Sierra Nevada Completions site allows that trained talent to diversify through private employment.

Potential aerospace talent in Pueblo, as well as the local economy, is also expected to feel a positive impact from the Sierra Completions hangar. The Milken Institute’s Small Cities Index, which ranks small cities based on job growth and sustainability, ranks Pueblo 21st (up from 81st in 2015) due in part to the city’s high-tech GDP growth and concentration.

The construction of the hangar at the Colorado Springs Airport was also kept in house as the winning bid went to Bryan Construction, Inc., a construction company owned and operated in Colorado with office locations in Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs as well as international locations in Istanbul, Dubai and Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.





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