Fort Collins Boasts a Four-Star Business Climate
In 1868 – five years before Fort Collins was incorporated as a city – Auntie Stones Flour Mill was already in business, providing local pioneers with the flour and other necessary goods. Today, it is now known as Ranch-Way Feed Mills and itcontinues to serve local customers by providing thousands of blends of animal feed to six states. This business – the oldest operating business in Fort Collins – represents the kind of stable growth and long-term prosperity that has marked the city’s economic history.
Fort Collins offers a steady mix of industry, government and services. The city is regarded as the regional employment and retail center for northern Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. Fort Collins also has a knack for attracting major employers, including 14 companies that have more than 100 people working in their Fort Collins facilities. Included are such Fortune 500 giants as Agilent Technologies, Anheuser-Busch, Eastman Kodak and Hewlett-Packard. These attractive community assets include a young, educated workforce, an affordable cost of living, a central location within an hour of Denver International Airport, strong public schools and several higher education options. This powerful combination attracted In-Situ Inc. to downtown Fort Collins in 2004. A manufacturer of environmental monitoring instrumentation, the company moved its corporate headquarters and 75 employees from Wyoming to a modern facility alongside the Poudre River.
Such a sturdy economy is similarly accredited to a strong Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber can brag about its four-star accreditation ranking from the United States Chamber of Commerce in 2004. The four-star ranking – the highest given by the U.S. Chamber – has only been given to three chambers: Fort Collins, Troy (Ohio) Area Chamber of Commerce and Valdosta-Lowndes County (Ga.) Chamber of Commerce. The Fort Collins Chamber is also well known for hosting strong business networking programs that bring members together. Networking programs include business before and after hours programs, a red carpet welcoming committee for new members and an innovative monthly program called “speed networking,” in which members spend a limited amount of time with representatives from more than 30 businesses in a fast-paced, structured and effective manner. Individuals are expected to promote their business to a partner in 45 seconds or less, quickly moving through the process until every individual has had time to meet one another and learn about each other’s business.
Not Just Another College
Colorado State University also has much to contribute to the growth of Fort Collins’ regional economy. The university and its graduates have been instrumental in the town’s economy as well as the creation of the Office of Economic Development. The department was created as part of a reorganization to link the university to markets of economic development. The university also employs more than 1,500 faculty members and making it Fort Collins’ largest employer. Fort Collins has done its part in contributing to the economy. With a high-ranking Chamber of Commerce, a committed university and an array of businesses that habitually work hand-in-hand, the Colorado town has the ingredients for success. And with all of these ingredients, Fort Collins is an ideal incubator for cultivating a strong and stable local economy.