Phillips 66 loss can fuel opportunity

All is not lost.

Phillips 66’s recent announcement that it would not build its 7,000-job renewable-energy research center on the former Storage Technology Corp. campus in Louisville was disappointing.

But it was not unexpected. Fears had abounded among local and state economic-development officials for the past couple of years, practically ever since ConocoPhillips first announced the project in early 2008. Any observer could read between the lines of press releases that announced repeated delays in the project.

The project’s fate probably was settled the minute that ConocoPhillips decided to split into two companies: There was no guarantee that leadership at Phillips 66, which had inherited the plan, would see it through.

Expectations were high that the development would jumpstart the Boulder Valley’s clean-tech economy the same way that IBM Corp. jumpstarted the technology sector. To lose such a project is painful.

But think of the asset that we still have: The former StorageTek campus encompasses 432 acres of land perfectly situated just outside Boulder along U.S. Highway 36, near the Interlocken business park.

The land is close to the University of Colorado and federal labs in Boulder and Golden. Proximity to the Northwest Parkway provides easy access to Denver International Airport.

This land will be developed. Whether that development is a clean-tech campus that spurs the industry in Colorad remains to be seen. Perhaps it will be another local business park, providing much-needed office space for companies growing out of the Boulder startup hotbed.

Perhaps it will add to the state’s biotech hubs, or become a candidate for the NASA-oriented aerospace and clean-tech campus once envisioned for Loveland.

We would have loved to see the Phillips 66 plan reach fruition. But we’ll also love to see what takes its place.

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