DGI nixed $18 million offer from Longmont
Last Updated: 16:49 November 1, 2013
DigitalGlobe (NYSE: DGI) selected Westminster as the home of its new headquarters despite Longmont's offer and before hearing all the details of the $7.2 million incentive package being offered by Broomfield. Westminster offered a $6.2 million package of incentives over a 10-year period.
DigitalGlobe plans to move its headquarters to an iconic 480,000-square-foot building in Westminster next summer, officials announced Oct. 16. The building at 1300 W. 120th Ave. has a prominent satellite-dish-shaped feature between two office wings.
DigitalGlobe will retain a small presence in Longmont.
Incentives offered by economic development officials did not drive the company's relocation decision, said Nancy Coleman, a DigitalGlobe spokeswoman.
"DigitalGlobe would like to continue to emphasize that the driver for this decision was the economic benefits tied to the building itself, not a disparity in the incentives offered by the municipalities," Coleman said in a statement originally released Oct. 16.
The company needs to move to better attract new employees from the Denver metro area as it grows, said Grover Wray, senior vice president and chief human resource officer at the company.
The company changed direction for Westminster after saying in September that it planned to build a 400,000-square-foot headquarters at a business park campus in Broomfield. Broomfield officials were still in the process of finalizing an offer when DigitalGlobe chose Westminster.
Longmont made its offer July 3 in a letter from Mayor Dennis Coombs to Jeffery Tarr, DigitalGlobe's president and chief executive. Coombs hand-delivered the letter, according to a memo provided to Longmont City Council members. Coombs, councilman Brian Bagley and city manager Harold Dominguez met with DigitalGlobe executives July 17 to further discuss the proposed incentives, according to the memo.
Officials in Broomfield and Longmont released economic incentive information after receiving Freedom of Information Act request letters from the Boulder County Business Report.
Parts of the Longmont economic incentive package remain private, since much of the information sent to the Boulder County Business Report was redacted - including a "direct financial assistance" paragraph, an "operational savings unique to Longmont" paragraph, and a block of text related to the total proposed $18 million amount.
Longmont is allowed to keep portions of the economic-incentive discussion private based on a 1998 court decision that sometimes exempts confidential commercial or financial information from the state's public-records law, Edward Yosses, Longmont's deputy city attorney, said in a letter to the Boulder County Business Report. Yosses cited Colorado statutes in his letter, dated Wednesday, Oct. 30.
In Broomfield, officials offered a proposed economic incentive package that included an estimated $7.2 million in savings compared with Westminster, because Broomfield does not have a consumer use tax but is charged in Westminster, according to a Broomfield incentive document. Other incentives were offered as percent rebates - including 50 percent of the city's personal property and use tax and 25 percent of its real property tax.
Broomfield city officials did not get far enough along in their negotiations with DigitalGlobe to turn the rebate percentages offered into quantifiable amounts, said Bo Martinez, economic development director for the city and county of Broomfield.
"We didn't sit down and have those meetings as they related to the final package," Martinez said.
"Longmont has been a great corporate partner," Wray said, "but the ability to attract talent from (Denver) and south in the Denver Tech Center is difficult."
DigitalGlobe is expected to generate $11.8 million in tax revenue for the city of Westminster in the first 10 years of operation, according to an economic incentive document provided by Westminster officials. Westminster offered a $6.2 million economic incentive package over a 10-year, six-month period.
DigitalGlobe has about 900 full-time employees in Colorado and plans to add 500 to 600 additional full-time employees over the next several years, Coleman said. The company in June got the OK for as much as $4.4 million in state tax rebates if it creates 435 jobs in Colorado over the next five years, according to a spokesman at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
The company sells satellite pictures to a variety of customers around the globe, including the U.S. government. It is integrating with former competitor GeoEye, which it acquired in 2012. A current GeoEye office in Thornton is a mile or two from the new office location, Wray said. The Thornton GeoEye office is slated to close.
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