Publisher’s Notebook: Longmont bridges regions

Residents of the Boulder Valley rightly consider Longmont part and parcel of the region. It is, after all, the second-largest community in Boulder County, with a population of 93,000 — not too far behind Boulder’s 108,000.

But many residents of Northern Colorado are beginning to lay claim to Longmont, as well. And it’s easy to understand why. This city, which — like Erie — straddles Boulder and Weld counties — increasingly is building ties north and east of Boulder County.

Longmont does indeed straddle the Boulder/Weld county line and is just a few miles south of Larimer County. That location has enabled it to attract companies such as J.M. Smucker Co., which is building a $340 million manufacturing facility in the Longmont portion of Weld County.

Southwest Weld County, including the burgeoning communities of Frederick, Firestone and Dacono, itself includes part of Longmont’s eastern edge. Growth in the Carbon Valley influences Longmont, and vice versa. Workers at Agilent Technologies’ new pharmaceutical facility in Frederick, for example, might very well live, shop or play in Longmont.

The city’s geographic position finds it with strong commuting links both to Boulder and Northern Colorado. A 2016 Envision Longmont community profile cited data showing that Boulder and Loveland were the two biggest sources of inbound commuters in 2011.

And the city is a key link on the FLEX bus service linking Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont and Boulder.

Longmont itself has seen banks, health-care providers, real estate companies and businesses from many other sectors expand into the city — many of them from Northern Colorado. Fort Collins-based Bank of Colorado’s recent acquisition of AmFirst Bank is one example. UCHealth’s purchase of the Longmont Clinic and construction of the UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital represent another.

Fort Collins-based NewMark Merrill Mountain States was responsible for transformation of the Twin Peaks Mall into The Village at the Peaks.

Longmont businesses also are looking northward. Ziggi’s Coffee, founded in Longmont, recently announced plans to open a franchise drive-thru facility in Fort Collins.

In short, Longmont has a lot happening. BizWest reporter Jensen Werley’s recent coverage of Longmont Startup Week offers a glimpse of the exciting changes that are occurring in the city, from expansion in the brewing, tech and drone sectors to a broader increase in startup activity.

The city has cracked the $400,000 barrier in terms of median home price but still remains affordable by Boulder or Louisville standards. It’s mentioned in virtually every conversation among residential brokers about “the next big thing,” as buyers unable to afford the city by the Flatirons seek alternatives.

Longmont also maintains a close relationship with Japan, ties that began with Japanese-American farmers in the early 1900s and evolved into high-tech Japanese companies locating operations in the city. (In 1994, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko stayed at the Longmont home of Ken and Susan Pratt during a U.S. tour.)

The city houses a large number of high-tech companies and manufacturing operations, many of which have grown because of Longmont’s proximity to Boulder and the University of Colorado Boulder.

But observers wouldn’t be wrong to conclude that the city’s future might equally be linked to Northern Colorado.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or via email at cwood@bizwest.com.


 

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