Agilent could lead parade to I-25

Trust me. More such announcements will come.

Agilent Technologies Inc. announced Aug. 10 that it would build a new pharmaceutical manufacturing and laboratory facility not in Boulder, Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins or Denver, but in … Frederick.

Agilent’s Nucleic Acids Solutions Division currently employs 175 people at a Boulder facility, but space constraints prompted the company to explore other options for expansion. That led the company to Frederick, a former coal-mining town adjacent to Firestone and Dacono that previously was best-known for an eclectic mix of manufacturing and warehouse operations.

The company will build on 20 acres northwest of Interstate 25 and Colorado Highway 52, where it eventually will employ 150 to 200, doubling its manufacturing capability. Frederick beat out Austin, Texas, for the facility. The Boulder operation will remain open.

Selection of Frederick by a company of Agilent’s stature constituted an economic-development thunderclap, bringing a global high-tech employer to southwest Weld County.

“The Agilent project is a huge win for the town of Frederick, Weld County and all of Northern Colorado,” said Mike Freeman, chairman of the Weld County commissioners, in a prepared statement. “The project adds diversification to our thriving economic base, plus significant new jobs and tax base. It also showcases what an amazing growth region Northern Colorado is due to the diverse workforce and business-friendly environment.”

Other companies — including from the tech, outdoor-industry, and natural/organic sectors — surely will follow. Renowned Colorado real estate developer Bruce Etkin told me last year that as business parks such as the Colorado Technology Center in Louisville build out in the next few years, such developments will shift to the Interstate 25 corridor, where land is in abundance and the geography links Northern Colorado with the employment base of the Denver metropolitan area, including Boulder.

In the months since, I’ve mentioned Etkin’s prediction to several Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado brokers/developers. Only a few — such as Loveland-based McWhinney, with its North Park project — have yet turned their attention to that particular stretch of the I-25 corridor. But Agilent’s decision has captured the attention of many.

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway told me recently that the county definitely is focused on that region, including working closely with Frederick, Firestone, Dacono and Erie. Landing a company such as Agilent will be transformative, Conway said. Agilent’s average annual wage is expected to be in the range of $77,206. That’s well beyond Weld County’s average of $46,644.

A location on I-25 gives companies such as Agilent breathing room and relief from the more-expensive and constrained real estate markets of Boulder or Denver. Southwest Weld County positions it to draw workers not only from Boulder and Denver but also from Fort Collins, Loveland or Greeley.

As prices soar for all types of real estate in the more-dense Boulder Valley and Denver metropolitan region, it’s inevitable that more press releases will enter media inboxes, bearing datelines of Firestone, Dacono, Erie, Johnstown and, yes, Frederick.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or cwood@bizwestmedia.com.

Comments

Start a discussion in the form below.

To participate in commenting, you must enable JavaScript.