Manufacturing is vital to strong national, state and even local economies, and Boulder and Boulder County are experiencing the fastest growth in manufacturing output in Colorado. Our concentration of manufacturing activity is among the highest in the state. Boulder’s manufacturing advantages come with major challenges, however, and both advantages and challenges will be explored at the “Boulder Economic Summit:  Made in Boulder,” hosted by the Boulder Economic Council on May 21.

Manufacturing in Colorado is well-established and diverse, with more than 5,900 manufacturing firms, more than 132,000 employees and $19.5 billion in annual economic output. Leading manufacturing sectors range from electronics to pharmaceuticals and from aerospace vehicles to food and beverage manufacturing. Global shifts in manufacturing are putting Colorado at the forefront of the reshoring of advanced manufacturing, and momentum is building around manufacturing innovation and the creation of highly skilled, high paying jobs in advanced industries.

Boulder County’s manufacturing sector grew at almost 7 percent annually in recent years, producing more than $3.1 billion in output in 2012. Our manufacturing output per capita is by far the highest in Colorado. Boulder’s strongest industry clusters are aerospace, IT, bioscience, cleantech, natural products, and outdoor recreation. Manufacturing product development is fueled locally by Boulder’s world-class research institutions and robust private-sector research and development.

While manufacturing in Colorado and Boulder is diverse and growing, the sector faces major challenges. Will there continue to be enough skilled employees to meet the workforce demands of growing manufacturers? Will U.S. and global demand for products manufactured here continue to grow? Will Colorado and Boulder continue to offer the supportive business environment necessary for existing and new manufacturers?

To learn more about Boulder’s manufacturing economy, please plan to attend the Boulder Economic Summit, to be held from 7:30 a.m. to noon May 21 at the Millennium Harvest House.  Come hear more than 25 Boulder manufacturing executives, entrepreneurs, advanced-industries leaders, economic-policy experts, researchers and other distinguished speakers address the advantages, challenges and opportunities for Boulder’s manufacturing economy.

Executives from Ball Aerospace, Celestial Seasonings, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Corden Pharma, RealD, MBio, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, BI, New Sky Energy, the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology, Boulder Soup Works, the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, University of Colorado Tech Transfer, Polar Bottle, Cold Quanta, Boulder Chamber, FreeWave Technologies, Blue Canyon Technologies, Sundolier and Xero Shoes will join keynote presenters CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano; Ken Lund, director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and CU-Boulder economist Rich Wobbekind.

For a complete list of Economic Summit presenters, a detailed program agenda and to register to attend the summit, please visit

Clif Harald is executive director of the Boulder Economic Council.