Southern Colorado’s megasite aims to create thousands of jobs
As Pueblo continues to reign in development from around Colorado and the the United States, one mission remains: fully opening up the massive PuebloPlex for business.
Part of the 23,000 lot that was once the Pueblo Chemical Depot (which includes approximately 5 million square feet of buildings and bunkers, 160 miles of roadway and 46 miles of rail infrastructure) has made its way back to the public through means of private corporatization. According to its Facebook page, for example, PuebloPlex offers storage igloos of 2,146 square feet for anywhere from $1,020 to $1,530 annually depending on door size.
But massive storage space wasn’t all the Colorado legislature had in mind when, in 1994, it created the Pueblo Depot Activity Development Authority (PDADA) to plan for the transfer of portions of the now defunct Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) back to the community.
PuebloPlex has been transparent as to what it wants to do with the site as possible contamination, including explosive residue, heavy metals and other by products continue to be removed.
In a bullet-point outline they establish that redevelopment of the PCD includes “maximizing opportunities for economic development and job creating that are consistent with the community’s overall vision for PuebloPlex.”
As Pueblo’s economy continues to grow, the iron may never be hotter to strike.
“The land in Pueblo is less expensive,” said Susan Fries, Economic Development Specialist, Pueblo County Economic Development and Geographic Information Systems of one of the recruitment tools Pueblo and Pueblo County are using to attract business to move to the area. “We have a great community college that does specialized corporate training programs, so if a corporation comes here and needs specialized training or advanced manufacturing skill training we can provide that for them. That’s part of the incentive package also.”
She added that like most any other competitive city, Pueblo offers a series of local and state incentives to attract job-creating corporations.
“We focus on companies that can provide a wage that’s at the state average of around $45,000 a year,” she said. “We work with our partners on the incentive package. If a company is based in a city annexed area we can work with our partners at the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation for some incentives, the county has some ability to provide some tax incentives, as well.”
Located just east of the Pueblo Memorial Airport, the Pueblo Plex carries one focus as it moves towards becoming completely public: jobs. Some estimates show that PuebloPlex could bring in as many as 5,000 jobs over the the next 10 to 15 years and long term as many as 58,000 jobs. For an area not known for job growth, those numbers could set the stage for something huge.
Furthermore, with housing costs on the rise throughout the Front Range, job growth is a must, Fries said.
“House prices are still much lower than in the rest of the Front Range,” she said of Pueblo’s current housing market. “We have a lot of older housing stock that we prefer to fill rather than new buildings right now, but we do have some developers that are working on downtown, urban loft housing.”
She added that in terms of Colorado’s biggest housing-related problem right now - shortage of affordable housing - Pueblo is not quite at the same level as the rest of the state’s major cities, though shortage of housing is becoming a problem.
“Northern Colorado Springs and up to Fort Collins, they are having more of a crisis right now,” she said. “The workforce isn’t able to pay a reasonable rate for housing, but you still can in Pueblo. Our housing market is getting tight as in other places. There are fewer houses on the market now than realtors have ever experienced before in Pueblo, so we are edging in that direction as well.”