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Brighton economic development team touts energy corridor boom

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — The Brighton Economic Development Corp. touted the positive impacts businesses in the city’s energy and employment corridor are having on the area. During a luncheon at the Armory May 8, BEDC Director Robert Smith told those in attendance the employment and energy corridor “is on the corner of a solid tradition and a bright future.”

 

The energy and employment corridor is a 3,000 acre located between the cities of Brighton and Fort Lupton, which supports fossil fuel-based energy sources and cleantech energy sources like wind and solar.

Guest Speaker Patty Silverstein, President and Chief Economist at Development Research Partners, said there has been a 41 percent increase in employment in this corridor since 2009 and that there are currently 2,700 individuals who are employed within this area. 

“When you put the fossil fuels and clean tech together, you see a very significant base of energy industry employment here within Adams and Weld counties,” she said.

According to Silverstein, manufacturing jobs are a large part of the increase in employment in the corridor, followed by oil and gas employment and then construction jobs. She also said since 2013, 61 percent of the permits that were issued in Colorado were issued in Weld County and that 40 percent of the active wells in the state are in Weld County. 

With the current rate of expansion of the Niobrara Formation, Smith said potential developers can anticipate more than 50 years of life from those wells. He anticipates more and more cleantech energy is going to be in demand as the country begins to use cleantech energy for industrial production. As a result of growth in the area, he said there’s a greater demand for electricity in the future and that United Power expects the demand to double in the next five to seven years. 

“As all of those things are moving forward, the takeaway from this is if you build in Brighton today to service those industries, you’ve got a long time to reap the rewards of building there,” he said, adding that building in Brighton is a good investment and that developers can expect it to pay over the course of time. 

The boon of activity in the area has resulted in low vacancy levels for office, industrial and retail space. According to Smith, the corridor is all out of rentable space and that potential businesses and developers hoping to get into the corridor will have to build their own facilities. 

Because of this, the area is poised to benefit from speculative building, where a developer will invest in a building, knowing they will be able to fill it because of the demand although they may not have a lease in place at the time.

“Folks are more willing to entertain the notion of saying there’s enough demand out there that I feel confident enough to take that risk to put those dollars out on the table because I know that we’ll get users that are going to be taking this space down as soon as it’s built,” he said.

Smith said folks at the Bromley Industrial Business Park is interested in bringing a speculative building into the corridor and are currently initiating a pre-application process with the city. He said other specular building opportunities are also in the works.