COLORADO SPRINGS – The typical headlines are hard to ignore. Service industry shutdowns, tens of thousands of unemployed in Colorado, millions more across the country and an economy at risk of collapse amid the COVID–19 pandemic.
But it’s not all bad, particularly in Colorado Springs.
“The defense industrial base is considered critical infrastructure by the federal government to protect our country so that protects about 40 percent of the local economy,” said Owner & CEO of Boecore Kathy Boe.
Boecore is a defense software firm headquartered in downtown Colorado Springs. The Defense Industry is around 40 percent of the city’s economy and Boe says investment, particularly for smaller firms, has been ramping up from the federal government.
Her company, which in part programs military grade software, is celebrating its 20th year after starting in downtown Colorado Springs in late 2000. Boe is looking to hire more people, adding to the over 270 they currently have.
“There is tremendous investment happening to help keep up with evolving technology and defend ourselves against our adversaries,” she said.
It’s not only the government-bolstered defense industry that’s clashing against the mainstream economic story lines.
Technology firms like Altia, also headquartered in Colorado Springs is looking for more help in their five offices, including those in Seoul, Tokyo and Germany.
“At the moment our need to actually grow the company is still there, so we’ve been hiring,” CEO of Altia Mike Juran said. “We had projects in flight and when this crisis came along, none of those projects got cancelled because those are really projected towards 18 and 24 months out.”
Altia programs software for video displays like in cars and appliances. Their clients are companies like Ford, Toyota, and Whirlpool.
Moving to an at-home office space was pretty seemless Juran says. The global reach of the company required reliable infrastructure for remote meetings and the company’s old headquarters was an added incentive.
They moved to downtown from their office on Woodmen Road, which was evacuated for several days after the Waldo Canyon fire.
“We’re super lucky right now and in a mode where we can continue to grow and thrive,” said Juran.
Juran is the Vice Chair of the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, Boe is the current chair. Amid the struggles of the service and tourism industry the board for the organization, made up of 40 people across the different economic sectors of the city, has been meeting (virtually) more often to find ways to help.
Organizations like Survive and Thrive, Support the Springs, and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation (which helps the El Paso County and Teller County emergency relief funds) are able to help those unemployed, those who can’t pay bills and those finding themselves in other forms of hardship during the pandemic.
It’s, unfortunatley, familiar territory.
“The Colorado Springs area was on a great trajectory before the pandemic. We were the best city to live in two years in a row according to U.S News and World Report and we will be again,” Boe said. “Our city works together. We did that after both fires in 2013 and 2014 and that was a trial run for us to get through this. Certainly, our businesses have been devastated by this, but we had a great economy and we will have a great economy again.”