BOULDER - Northern Colorado is the state's manufacturing headquarters, with the Greeley area having the largest percent of jobs related to manufacturing and Boulder coming in a close second, according to Rich Wobbekind, executive director of the business research division at the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business.
 
A little more than 12 percent of jobs in the Greeley area were related to manufacturing, while 10.5 percent of jobs in Boulder were tied to that sector, Wobbekind said Wednesday morning in an address at the Boulder Economic Summit, an annual event sponsored by the Boulder Economic Council.

Statewide, Coloradans have proved remarkably productive when it comes to making things, with real gross domestic product, or GDP, per employee reaching $149,100 per person in 2012, up from $53,600 in 1998.

In Boulder County, those numbers were even more dramatic, with GDP per person in manufacturing rising from $65,600 in 2001 to $212,650 in 2012.

"That's impressive," Wobbekind said.

Nationwide, manufacturing is making a comeback, with more high-value products, such as automobiles, being manufactured here than 12 years ago.

Driving the resurgence are four factors:

-  A narrowing of the wage gap between the United States and other countries. In fact, Mexico has now reached wage parity with the United States, Wobbekind said.

- Lower energy costs

- Quality control

- Transportation costs

But the main industries driving this national rebound - cars and machinery - don't exist in Colorado. What is here and what could help power a strong statewide resurgence is an advanced manufacturing community that includes computers and electronics, aerospace and biotechnologies, Wobbekind said.

Hampered by the Great Recession, manufacturing job gains have been slow to materialize, with Colorado manufacturing showing weak job through the end of 2013, and the first quarter of 2014 showing overall weakness as well.

Still, Colorado has maintained its status as one of the top 20 states for healthy manufacturing sectors, registering 16th on the list.