Former Agilent plant still seeking tenants

One year has passed since Cumberland & Western Resources paid $5 million for the former Agilent Technologies campus in Loveland and not a single company has decided to take root in the facility.

Kentucky-based Cumberland & Western paid cash for 177 acres of the 300-acre property last December. The idea: redevelop the 811,000-square-foot plant there, known as the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology, with three or four anchor tenants, including their suppliers, and multiple mid-sized companies.

Loveland officials such as Mayor Cecil Gutierrez had hoped that at least one company would have leased some space at the campus by now. At the same time, Gutierrez is trying to manage expectations.

“Economic development really requires time and patience,” he says.

What made people believe the campus would fill up quickly?

“There were so many big headlines with big (employment potential) numbers that were being thrown out there,” Gutierrez said. “That gets everybody excited, but when people don’t understand the process that economic development is a slow-moving process, I think expectations get raised really high.”

There hasn’t been much talk of expectations lately – or about any part of the project, for that matter. Loveland’s brightest tech-sector news this past year instead came from its Economic Development Department’s tech-transfer initiative.

The program connects local companies with NASA-connected DA2 Consulting, which in turn pairs companies with NASA technologies that companies hope to commercialize. Cumberland & Western played host to meetings about the program at the Agilent campus, but that was about the extent of its involvement.

Through it all, Cumberland & Western continues to do behind-the-scenes work in hopes of recruiting companies, say city officials, who seem pleased with the company’s efforts. The company, along with the city and Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp., have relied mostly on personal connections in their attempts to find tenants for the property.

Historically, some companies certainly have taken their time when expanding in Northern Colorado. Gutierrez compares the effort to when HP began looking to expand in Colorado in the late 1950s.

The company began building in Loveland in 1960, but it wasn’t until 1981 that it employed 3,000 people here, according to HPMuseum.net.

“It was a long timeline,” Gutierrez notes.

Agilent, of course, was the company that was formed by a split with HP in 1998. HP and Agilent employment in Northern Colorado has dwindled over the years.

Agilent put the property on the market in November 2006. It seems no closer to regaining even one tenant six years later.

Chata to remain in NOCO

This news was reported on the Business Report’s website a few days back but it’s worth repeating: Fort Collins’ Chata Biosystems will expand in Loveland after its parent Boval Co. decided against a move to Texas.

Chata, located on East Mulberry Street, will double its space when it moves into an 18,000-square-foot building at 5858 Wright Drive. Chata, which plans to begin operating in the building in January, makes chemical solutions used by pharmaceutical companies to manufacture drugs.

After buying Chata in 2011, Cleburne, Texas-based Boval had planned to move the Fort Collins company to Cleburne, southeast of Dallas. However, Chata found that its Fort Collins employees likely would not have moved to Texas, Chata President Cody Yarborough said.

“Our employees were phenomenal people,” Yarborough said. “They probably would have stayed in Northern Colorado; we wanted to maintain our workforce there.”

Jim Mokler of Realtec leased Chata the property in August.

CHD Bioscience reaches R&D agreement with CSU

CHD Bioscience Inc. this month reached a five-year research-and-development agreement with CSU to explore new ways of treating infectious diseases.

The agreement will further collaboration between Fort Collins’ CHD Bioscience and researchers at CSU’s Mycobacteria Research Laboratories, CHD Bioscience CEO Michael Handley said.

“To work with them really helps to extend our research and potential applications of therapeutic technology,” Handley said.

Steve Lynn covers technology for the Northern Colorado Business Report. He can be reached at 970-232-3147, slynn@ncbr.com or twitter.com/SteveLynnNCBR.

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