Launch! Taking Colorado’s Space Economy to the Next Level

Part of Brookings’s new Advanced Industries Series, this report finds that the Colorado space economy is a critical driver of economic growth and explores how Colorado can defend and extend its current position as one of the most multidimensional space economies in the nation. Directly employing over 66,000 workers across the military, civil, and private domains, the full space enterprise in Colorado contributed some $8.7 billion in value-added output in 2011, in a performance that generated some 3.8 percent of Colorado’s private-sector gross domestic product.

Note: This report was released at an event on Tuesday, February 5, at the History Colorado Center. The Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings presented a dynamic public forum focused on the significance and future of the Colorado space economy as an exemplary advanced industry. The forum explores ways the Colorado space cluster can build and sustain regional and national economic competitiveness. See event details.

With the Great Recession receding but disruptive change in the air, Colorado has been moving to reassess its economic positioning and identify the most promising sources of long-term growth and competitiveness.

Most notably, the administration of Gov. John Hickenlooper—alert to calls that the United States must reorient its drifting economy away from consumption activities and imports and more toward high-value innovation, production, and exports—has been carrying out a major economic planning initiative aimed at engaging the state’s key industries and regions in a “bottom-up” effort to explore and seize on the best opportunities for economic expansion. Through this Colorado Blueprint process, the state has come to focus—with support from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program—on its extraordinary space/aerospace cluster, which it quickly recognized stands as a classic “advanced industry.”

Three major findings about the Colorado space economy:

  • Colorado possesses one of the most diversified, multidimensional, and high-potential space economies in the nation.
  • However, while significant opportunities are emerging, a set of disruptive forces at work in the global space market have exposed a number of competitive challenges for the Colorado industry.
  • Given these challenges as well as its many strengths, Colorado should commit itself to preeminence in the space through a collaborative partnership of industry and government along six dimensions.

Read the report » (PDF)