C&W relying mostly on relationships to market RMCIT

LOVELAND – Cumberland & Western and local economic development professionals are relying mostly on personal connections in their efforts to find tenants to fill the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology, officials said Wednesday.

Bill Murphree of Cumberland & Western, owner of the RMCIT property, said his company, along with the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp. and the City of Loveland, are using “traditional” channels to get the word out about the technology park.

This means leveraging business-to-business relationships at regional, national and international levels to find companies that are looking to expand or relocate in the former Agilent Technologies campus, Murphree said.

Murphree joined NASA officials and others in the technology-transfer field at a city-sponsored breakfast and gathering on Wednesday as part of the City of Loveland Economic Development’s Innovation and Technology Showcase.

The showcase took place at the RMCIT and featured some of the key players in the center’s development. It was designed in part to underscore NASA’s drive to commercialize its technology by finding companies willing and able to find new ways to bring that technology to market.

Among those participating in the day’s events was NASA’s Ray Lugo, head of the John H. Glenn Research Center in Ohio, one of the agency’s key research centers, and Diana Hoyt, another NASA official.

“NASA is here to take the technology and know-how that we’ve invested in with our tax dollars and put it to work,” Hoyt was quoted saying in the Loveland Reporter-Herald.

Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill told the Business Report that the city is serving as “the crucible” in NASA’s effort and that no other municipality in the country was working with the space agency as closely as Loveland.

“NASA wants to make progress in its technology transfer … and we’re the test site of sorts for how they’re going to make this work,” Mayor Cecil A. Gutierrez said.

Tours of the RMCIT facility were offered through the afternoon, followed by a networking reception.

Some advertising is being done for the property, Murphree said, but most of the conversations about the space are sparked by connections between business leaders.

The Center, as RMCIT is called by City of Loveland officials, has drawn interest from companies both large and small, and Cumberland & Western wants to include both, but is focusing first on the larger tenants, Murphree said.

While Murphree was not able to specifically name potential tenants, he did say that a number of companies have expressed significant interest, with about two-thirds of those coming from Colorado and the adjoining states.

The rest of the interested parties are companies from other parts of the nation or even the globe.

The marketing efforts that have occurred include getting The Center on the map nationally and internationally, to turn the Northern Colorado area into a “secondary Silicon Valley,” according to Murphree.

Cumberland & Western has tried to emphasize the building’s flexibility and long life-span, Murphree said.

While there are “high-level discussions” going on with several companies about locating at RMCIT, there is not yet a timetable established for when these decisions might be made.

With each company, the decision-making process varies, he said, and that process takes time.

Local economic development officials are working with local real estate professionals to try to fill the space as well, according to Kelly Peters, director of business retention and expansion for NCEDC.

Because of a shortage of industrial space in Larimer County, many brokers look to the square footage of RMCIT as a way to alleviate some of the pressure in the market.

Half of the available industrial space in Larimer County is located in the 810,000-square-foot property, according to local real estate experts.

NCEDC and the City of Loveland are making use of local organizations such as the Northern Colorado Commercial Association of Realtors, as well as multiple listing services and national firms like CoStar to get the word out about the property, Peters said.

NCEDC is also leveraging relationships with economic development professionals in Denver and at the state level, Peters said.

Both Tom Clark of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. and Ken Lund of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade have The Center on their radar, Peters said.

“We want to get this region on the map as a technology center,” Peters said, and the assistance of officials outside the region is one of the best ways to do that.

Outside of relationship-based marketing, The Center also has a website, Peters said. The site touts the attributes of both the campus and the Northern Colorado region and provides contact information for Peters and others involved with the project.

Potential also exists for RMCIT to become, in part, a stepping-stone for technology startups that “graduate” from the Rocky Mountain Innosphere in Fort Collins, according to Peters.

That said, it’s important not to compete with the Innosphere and others like it, said David Lung of DA2, the consultant hired by the City of Loveland to work with tech-transfer companies.

Instead, RMCIT may be able to give companies that are ready to leave the Innosphere a larger space to grow.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR

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