Huntsville, Ala., has been beating Colorado Springs at the aerospace jobs game for a long time. As Business Journal reporter Amy Gillentine reported in last week’s issue, the reasons why are numerous.
They’re winning because their efforts are coordinated. Huntsville enjoys widespread private and public support for its economic development organizations. There’s a prevailing belief among its residents that incentives attract companies. And, of course, we all know that companies create jobs and that jobs enhance quality of life for everyone.
And, while Colorado Springs has had a number of aerospace-job creation victories over the years, it’s clear that we’re not keeping up. The reasons why are also numerous, but it really comes down to one factor:
We’re not unified on this question.
Where’s the community commitment? Where’s the high-profile campaign to brand our city as an aerospace headquarters? Where’s the fresh, failure-is-not-an-option type of thinking?
Most critically, where’s the leadership?
We have so much going for us already. Colorado Springs is home to an estimated 200 aerospace and defense companies, some of them big-name companies. The local defense and aerospace industry equates to about 40 percent of the city’s economy.
Though all of this is already here, you wouldn’t know it, because no one’s trumpeting it.
Ever heard of The Space Foundation? It was established here in 1983 and resides in the plush, one-story, red-brick building tucked behind shrubbery in an industrial district off Highway 24.
We think the Space Foundation should be downtown, with its name proudly displayed atop a building for everyone on I-25 to see.
It also seems we’re wasting energy chasing other jobs and dreams.
Some might argue we should press on along that path. But we suggest the Springs is better off playing to its strengths, rather than pursuing, say, the Austin, Texas, model. What, after all, does Austin really have in common with the Springs?
That’s why it’s good to hear that the folks from the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. are traveling to Huntsville next week to scope out the aerospace and economic development scene there.
Let’s hope they come back with a new playbook.
Editor’s note: Read Amy Gillentine’s Special Report on Huntsville at csbj.com.