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The move is key for the Longmont-based satellite imagery company (NYSE: DGI) to attract new employees as it grows, said Grover Wray, senior vice president and chief human resource officer. DigitalGlobe said on Oct. 16 that it would move its corporate headquarters to the building at 1300 W. 120th Ave. in Westminster. Associated with Avaya Inc., the building has a prominent satellite-dish-shaped feature between two office wings.
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“Longmont has been a great corporate partner, but the ability to attract talent from (Denver) and south in the Denver Tech Center is difficult,” Wray said.
The Westminster announcement came just weeks after DigitalGlobe executives said the company would build a 400,000-square-foot headquarters building with room for 1,300 employees in the North Park development at Interstate 25 and Colorado Highway 7 in Broomfield. DigitalGlobe currently is located at 1601 Dry Creek Drive in Longmont.
Refurbishing an existing building rather than building a new one will save DigitalGlobe shareholders “significant” capital costs, Wray said. He thanked the city of Broomfield and other partners for understanding the unexpected change in plans.
“Financially and culturally, it made sense,” Wray said. “This new building will allow us to build our culture, with all of our team members under one roof.”
DigitalGlobe in Colorado has about 900 full-time employees and plans to add 500 to 600 additional full-time employees over the next several years, said Nancy Coleman, a DigitalGlobe spokeswoman based in Longmont. The company in June got the OK for as much as $4.4 million in state tax rebates if it creates 435 jobs in Colorado over the next five years, according to a spokesman at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
DigitalGlobe sells satellite pictures to a variety of customers around the globe, including the U.S. government. It is integrating with former competitor GeoEye, which it acquired in 2012. A current GeoEye office in Thornton is a mile or two from the new office location, Wray said. That office is slated to close.
Unspecified financial incentives offered by Broomfield and Westminster economic development officials did not drive the relocation decision, Coleman said. Wray said the financial incentives offered by the two communities were not substantially different. Longmont officials also offered the company a package of economic incentives to stay at its present location.
Economic incentives can include things such as personal property tax, use tax and real estate tax rebates, said Bo Martinez, economic development director for the city and county of Broomfield. He declined to discuss financial details of the DigitalGlobe project, referring questions to DigitalGlobe. Coleman and Wray declined to give further details of possible financial incentives.
Westminster also declined to give details of economic incentives offered to DigitalGlobe, other than to say that they’re still being discussed.
“But as far as the overall project, the city is very excited about it,” said Susan Grafton, economic development director for the city of Westminster. “This is a positive to have a global headquarters in the north metro area, and all of us will be benefitting.”
DigitalGlobe chief executive Jeffrey Tarr characterized the Westminster announcement as the culmination of “an unexpected series of events.” DigitalGlobe’s previous plans in Broomfield were made through a nonbinding letter of intent.
Broomfield officials were “very disappointed that DigitalGlobe has chosen to go in a new direction,” Martinez said after the announcement was made. “But we’re very proud that we put our best foot forward for them to locate in our community.”
McWhinney commercial real estate representative Jay Hardy also was supportive of DigitalGlobe’s unexpected change in plans, pointing to the company’s decision to remain in Colorado. McWhinney is developing the North Park campus.
Jason Addlesperger and Dave Lee, commercial real estate brokers at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Denver office, represented the Westminster building’s owner. The building has several outdoor patios facing south and 800 parking spaces – 300 in an open parking lot and 500 in a covered lot, according to building sales details.
In the meantime, Longmont economic development officials have offered support to DigitalGlobe officials since the announcement, said Wendi Nafziger, a spokeswoman for the Longmont Area Economic Council. The company is expected to maintain a footprint in the Longmont location for an unspecified period of time after the move to Westminster, according to a press statement.