ARCHIVED  January 1, 1997

High tech maintains stability for 1997

Although numerous stock-market analysts say the high-tech industry has peeked and investors should be wary, the high-tech industry in Colorado appears to be not only stable but also strong and growing stronger.

“High tech is a growth industry in the state,´ said Tucker Hart Adams, chief economist with Colorado National Bank in Denver. “The economy requires an educated, well-trained work force, and CSU, CU and the University of Northern Colorado provide a stable base with ongoing research, which pulls money into the area.”

Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and the University of Colorado in Boulder all bring in large amounts of federal and private-sector research dollars.

University research in science, biotechnology and high-tech areas often overlaps, providing an added boost to the economy.

Most of the high-tech industry depends on sales outside the state, so the high-tech industry in Colorado is linked to sales and economic conditions worldwide. For example, Advanced Energy Industries Inc. of Fort Collins, which manufactures energy-conversion devices for the semiconductor industry, responded to a worldwide slowdown in that industry by laying off 44 workers in September.

Similarly, Comlinear Corp., a Fort Collins-based subsidiary of National Semiconductor Corp., laid off 16 workers in October.

However, Nancy McCallin, chief economist for the Colorado Legislative Council, predicts that advanced technology and financial services will continue to grow, and make up for some of the slack in the construction industry and other areas.

The Legislative Council issued a report in September with economic summaries of all the counties in Northern Colorado.

Larimer County, the seventh-largest county in the state by population, showed strong growth during the 1990s. Employment growth in the county increased by 5 percent.

Larimer County ranks sixth in the state in the number of advanced-technology firms. Altogether, the industry employs 12 percent of the county’s work force, according to the council’s report.

The bulk of the advanced-technology employment is in the manufacture of computer and office equipment, which is not a surprise given Hewlett-Packard’s 6,500 employees in Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland.

In Fort Collins, the company experienced a 10 percent job growth in 1996. Hewlett-Packard in Loveland expanded its work force by 50 percent after acquiring Colorado Memory Systems in 1994 and has grown by 4 percent since then.

Both the Fort Collins and the Loveland plants expect their growth to be slower this year. Jim Willard, public-relations manager at Hewlett-Packard in Loveland, said that “1996 was a good year but not a great year in terms of revenue dollars. We are expecting a 5 or 6 percent growth in sales worldwide.” Willard said the Loveland plant would probably hire about 50 to 100 employees in the next year, typical for the plant.

The Loveland site has six buildings with more than 1 million square feet of space. The plant is tied to the electronics industry because they sell testers for circuit boards to a variety of companies, including competitors. They also do research and development.

Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins is constructing a new building to replace temporary buildings on the site.

“We have 87,000 square feet of space in the modular buildings, and the new building will have 180,000 square feet of space,´ said Will Arduino, public-relations manager at Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins. “So we have some buffer space, but we are very conservative about buildings.”

The Fort Collins facility is a research-and-development and marketing plant, with some circuit-board assembly.

“Overall growth will be slower than last year,” Arduino said, adding that he did not know how many employees would be hired in 1997.

The Eastman Kodak Co. in Windsor employs about 2,400 people and makes a variety of products for Kodak, including motion-picture film, X-ray film, color print paper and aluminum plates for printing presses. The plant also packages the new Advantix camera, a product that should push up the company’s sales.

“We are still in a growth mode with high tech,´ said John Olienyk, a professor of business at CSU. “I still see a lot of untapped markets. It is still a strong industry. There will be declines in sales from time to time, but the long-term trend is up. Businesses are upgrading systems because they can find systems that will do more for them.”

Although numerous stock-market analysts say the high-tech industry has peeked and investors should be wary, the high-tech industry in Colorado appears to be not only stable but also strong and growing stronger.

“High tech is a growth industry in the state,´ said Tucker Hart Adams, chief economist with Colorado National Bank in Denver. “The economy requires an educated, well-trained work force, and CSU, CU and the University of Northern Colorado provide a stable base with ongoing research, which pulls money into the area.”

Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and the University of Colorado in…

Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood is editor and publisher of BizWest, a regional business journal covering Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties. Wood co-founded the Northern Colorado Business Report in 1995 and served as publisher of the Boulder County Business Report until the two publications were merged to form BizWest in 2014. From 1990 to 1995, Wood served as reporter and managing editor of the Denver Business Journal. He is a Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. He has won numerous awards from the Colorado Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Alliance of Area Business Publishers.
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