IT-Software led 2016 industry growth in Metro Denver, according to new study

Growth in the IT-software industry cluster nearly doubled over the previous year, making it Metro Denver’s fastest growing industry in 2016, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation’s (Metro Denver EDC) 11th-annual Industry Cluster Study released today.

The study, completed by the Metro Denver EDC’s Chief Economist Patty Silverstein and Senior Economist Lisa Strunk of Development Research Partners, analyzes nine leading industry clusters in the nine-county region, offering an in-depth, competitive analysis of the major industries contributing to the employment base and ongoing economic expansion.

IT-software employment increased 9.4 percent in 2016 thanks to landmark company relocations and expansions and significant venture capital activity. The region’s enviable reputation as a growing startup scene coupled with a talented high-tech workforce create a premier hub for the industry.

Beverage production—just added last year as a leading growth industry—posted the second-highest job growth in 2016 at 7.5 percent. Notably, the cluster ranks second among the top 50 metros for its high concentration of workers in the nine-county region. Investment services, a subcluster of financial services, rounded out the top-3 expanding industries in 2016 with 6.6 percent job growth.

Overall, only one subcluster—fossil fuels—posted negative growth in 2016. The analysis factors employment data from the third quarter of 2015 through the third quarter of 2016.

“The region’s diversified industry base is a key factor in its ongoing economic success,” said Silverstein. “It’s a differentiator for Metro Denver and what is driving companies to invest here and leading talented workers to move here.”

Silverstein notes that during the past five years, the region’s industry cluster base of 526,800 workers increased 17 percent—representing the addition of 76,540 new jobs.

New data highlights that Metro Denver’s leading industries are also among the best performing in the nation, with six clusters/subclusters ranking in the top 10 for employment concentration in 2016. The analysis includes industry descriptions, largest companies, employment concentration rank compared to the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, and detailed industry news and developments.

“These results are quite encouraging to us and show the high-value of our diversified industry strategy,” said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC. “We chart our economic development course based on a regional approach that equally emphasizes retention and expansion of current companies along with active business recruitment efforts. This game plan continues to generate jobs and economic benefits for our residents.”

Metro Denver and Northern Colorado Industry Clusters – Competitive Advantages
(one-year/five-year employment growth in parentheses):

  • Aerospace – Colorado had the nation’s second-largest aerospace economy (behind California) in 2016 with 25,500 workers. Companies in the nine-county region employed about 79 percent of these workers, ranking the region second in private-sector aerospace employment concentration out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas. (1.9%/2.3%)
  • Aviation – The industry cluster includes companies that manufacture aircraft and provide air transportation services, with Denver International Airport (DEN) serving as the major economic engine for the region’s aviation industry. Three reliever airports and five general aviation airports are strategically located throughout the region. (4.6%/22.4%)
  • Beverage Production – Companies in the beverage production cluster manufacture malt beverages, wines, distilled liquors, bottled drinks, and ice products. With 9,300 workers, the industry grew a whopping 28.1 percent between 2011 and 2016. (7.5%/28.1%)
  • Bioscience – The region’s base of medical devices, diagnostics, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals businesses employ nearly 15,870 workers at more than 670 companies. Between 2011 and 2016, the region’s bioscience cluster rose 6.5 percent compared with 3.6 percent nationally. (medical devices, 1.7%/10.8%; pharma & biotechnology, 3.2%/-2.5%)
  • Broadcasting and Telecommunications – The region is an established, nationally recognized center for the cluster and is the largest region in the United States to offer one-bounce satellite uplinks to six of seven continents in one business day due to its unique geographic location in the Mountain time zone. (0.4%/0.2%)
  • Energy – The region is an energy powerhouse with fossil fuels and cleantech together employing 52,850 people at 3,230 companies. Further, the region ranks fourth for cleantech and sixth in fossil fuels employment concentration among the 50 largest metropolitan areas.  (fossil fuels, -3.7%/20.7%; cleantech, 6%/20.4%)
  • Financial Services – The nine-county region is a global epicenter for financial services activities in three key market segments: banking and finance, investments, and insurance. Investments posted the strongest growth among the three subclusters in 2016, rising 6.6 percent. (banking and finance, 1.8%/1.4%; investments, 6.6%/22.1%; and insurance, 2.1%/12.2%)
  • Healthcare and Wellness – The region is the healthcare and wellness center of the Rocky Mountain West and has one of the most active and fit populations in the nation. With an employment base of 214,430 workers in 19,760 companies, the healthcare and wellness cluster is the region’s largest in terms of employment. (5.4%/22.8%)
  • Information Technology-Software – The region is a top location for young entrepreneurs and tech professionals, and ranks among the top regions that foster entrepreneurial growth. The region employs 54,580 workers in 5,180 companies and had the eighth-highest employment concentration out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas. (9.4%/27.5%)

Statewide reports for the aerospaceenergy, and investment services industries are available in the industry section on

Learn more:

» Infographic
» Executive Summary (PDF)
» Metro Denver & Northern Colorado Industry Cluster Study (PDF)

Janet Fritz is the senior director of marketing and technology for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.

This report was originally published to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation’s website, you can view the full article here.