Gov. Hickenlooper to Sign Bill to Bolster Aerospace Industry Growth in Colorado - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Gov. Hickenlooper to Sign Bill to Bolster Aerospace Industry Growth in Colorado

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SOURCE Colorado Space Coalition

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Tomorrow, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign into law a bill that will help expand aerospace industry growth in Colorado.

Gov. Hickenlooper will sign into law House Bill 1178 -- Sales & Use Tax Exemption for Qualified Property Used in Space Flight -- at the Colorado Space Coalition's exhibit on Tuesday, May 20 at the 30th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the premier gathering of the global space community.

Given that Colorado has the nation's third-largest aerospace economy, the bill is a part of the state's strategic initiatives to support and grow one of its strongest industries.

"Colorado aerospace companies are at the forefront of space travel, exploration, and research," said Gov. Hickenlooper. "While our companies are leading the industry, we can't become complacent. This bill represents our continuing support for the aerospace business and innovation in Colorado."

Colorado has always had a strong aerospace industry; it is home to more than 400 aerospace-related companies, has the nation's second-most highly educated workforce, and boasts research universities that are prominent in space innovation as well as training the next generation of aerospace workers. Aerospace is also one of the state's highest paying industry sectors, with aerospace workers making an average annual salary of $127,000.

The state has seen an impressive 17 percent growth in aerospace employment during the past decade, and Colorado now ranks first in the nation for the number of private aerospace workers per capita. 

Although Colorado's space industry has thrived in the past decade, it is currently facing significant challenges, as are other leading aerospace states. With the national aerospace industry landscape changing due to flat or declining federal budgets, states must place a greater emphasis on stimulating competitive opportunities for private-sector growth within the industry.

"House Bill 1178 is a fantastic example of how business leaders can engage to positively impact Colorado's business climate," said Loren Furman, Senior Vice President of State & Federal Government Relations for the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry (CACI). "DigitalGlobe's outreach to CACI, and the subsequent collaboration of aerospace companies, trade associations, and legislative leadership, led to strengthening Colorado as a leading aerospace state."

Industry experts believe the new tax exemption will add an important boost to keep Colorado ahead of the competition and further stimulate the state's massive aerospace economy.

Colorado is a national hub for geospatial technologies, remote sensing, and satellite-based services. These comprise the largest category of the state's space economy activity, bringing in $6.3 billion in annual revenue, and experiencing nearly 8 percent annual growth.

Companies that produce multimillion dollar satellites and space vehicles will now be able to store the equipment in Colorado without being taxed, encouraging companies to bring even more investment and projects to the state.

DigitalGlobe, the leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery and geospatial solutions, is currently working with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. to build WorldView-3, the next-generation commercial remote-sensing satellite. WorldView-3 is scheduled for launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in mid-2014.

"We're pleased that this legislation further advances Colorado as home to the world's leaders in designing, building, and operating earth-observation satellites," said Jeffrey R. Tarr, CEO of DigitalGlobe. "We appreciate the support of Gov. Hickenlooper and a supportive legislature, an active and engaged coalition of aerospace companies and associations, and CACI."

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company is another Colorado-based company that supported the bill. For nearly 60 years, Lockheed Martin Space Systems has built innovative satellites and space exploration systems here in Colorado as part of a robust statewide aerospace industry that currently employs almost 170,000 people.

"This bill strengthens Colorado's aerospace industry, helping to keep and grow more work and more jobs in the state," said Robert Cleave, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services in Littleton. "A broad coalition of supporters worked together to pass HB 1178 and keep Colorado a leader in aerospace."

To learn more about Colorado's space economy, visit the Colorado Space Coalition's website at www.spacecolorado.org.

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