Longmont EDP finds strong economic bounce back but labor challenges persist

LONGMONT — With near-record-level labor participation, plummeting unemployment and soaring gross regional product, Longmont’s economy took major strides in 2021 to bounce back from the COVID-19-induced recession the previous year.
Still, the city faces major challenges from housing affordability to employee retention and recruitment, according to the Longmont Economic Development Partnership’s annual State of Industry Report and Elevate Longmont survey. 

“Having a pulse on the challenges as well as the aspirations of Longmont’s business community is vitally important,” LEDP executive director Jessica Erickson said in a statement accompanying the report.  “The survey highlighted that despite myriad difficulties we all faced in 2020 and 2021 as we lived and worked through a historic health crisis, our community has a great deal to be thankful for and proud of. This information will allow us to streamline and apply a laser focus to our efforts and growth strategies for 2022.”

The report credits the city’s diverse industry mix, “especially those that bring new dollars into the community” with helping lead the quick economic comeback. 

“Industries that continue to grow in the face of an economic crisis help to protect the regional economy from collapse,” the report said. “Because Longmont has made the investment to identify and strengthen our four distinct primary industry clusters, it is likely that Longmont will see a rise of at least 2% in GRP in 2021, despite lingering impacts from the pandemic.”

The LEDP’s primary industry clusters are food and beverage, smart manufacturing, knowledge creation and deployment, and business catalysts. 

Food and beverage and smart manufacturing have been most negatively impacted by the pandemic and therefore slower to bounce back due “not only by shutdowns and other operational disruptions in the early days of the pandemic, but also by ongoing issues such as inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain issues,” the report said. 

“Conversely, businesses in the knowledge creation and deployment and business catalysts clusters have generally fared quite well during the pandemic, with some even flourishing in the new business landscape,” it continued. “Knowledge creation and deployment includes businesses engaged in developing products needed to combat the coronavirus, including components for vaccines, testing, PPE, and medical equipment. Companies in the business catalysts cluster employ many knowledge workers, one of the easiest groups to transition to remote work, and much of the cluster is made up of companies in the professional services sector, which do not rely as heavily on goods and physical resources — which may be subject to supply chain disruptions and inflation — in order to make a profit.”

The Elevate Longmont survey found that 62% of respondents believed that housing affordability was one of the top three disadvantages of doing business in Longmont.

A similar percentage reported that paying employees a competitive wage is their top retention challenge.

Combined, these challenges can exacerbate labor problems.

“Survey participants noted that because more than 76% of employees commute from

outside Longmont and that more than half live outside of Boulder County, attracting and retaining employees was difficult,” the report said.

The report and survey are conducted annually to identify industry trends, gather strategic intelligence, address concerns, identify new opportunities and offer support, according to the LEDP. Results are used to inform Longmont EDP’s future programs, initiatives, and policies.

The 2021 survey was significantly shortened and provided to all 234 primary employers through email, instead of being administered by volunteers in person. The report included input from 42 surveys and 14 participants across four roundtable sessions.

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC

LONGMONT — With near-record-level labor participation, plummeting unemployment and soaring gross regional product, Longmont’s economy took major strides in 2021 to bounce back from the COVID-19-induced recession the previous year.
Still, the city faces major challenges from housing affordability to employee retention and recruitment, according to the Longmont Economic Development Partnership’s annual State of Industry Report and Elevate Longmont survey. 

“Having a pulse on the challenges as well as the aspirations of Longmont’s business community is vitally important,” LEDP executive director Jessica Erickson said in a statement accompanying the report.  “The survey highlighted that despite myriad difficulties we all faced in 2020 and 2021 as we lived and worked through a historic health crisis, our community has a great deal to be thankful for and proud of. This information will allow us to streamline and apply a laser focus to our efforts and growth strategies for 2022.”

The report credits the city’s diverse industry mix, “especially those that bring new dollars into the community” with helping lead the quick economic comeback. 

“Industries that continue to grow in the face of an economic crisis help to protect the regional economy from collapse,” the report said. “Because Longmont has made the investment to identify and strengthen our four distinct primary industry clusters, it is likely that Longmont will see a rise of at least 2% in GRP in 2021, despite lingering impacts from the pandemic.”

The LEDP’s primary industry clusters are food and beverage, smart manufacturing, knowledge creation and deployment, and business catalysts. 

Food and beverage and smart…