Updated: July 26, 2011 at 12:00 am
Speaking Tuesday at dpiX, a digital imaging company that has just moved its headquarters to Colorado Springs, Gov. John Hickenlooper touted his “bottom-up” blueprint for economic development in the state.
“What we’ve been focused on for the last six months and will be focused on for the next two years is, how do we become a better partner,” Hickenlooper said. “We need to build a business-friendly environment. That hasn’t always been the case in this state.”
The governor’s blueprint looks at six areas: making the state more business friendly, recruiting and retaining businesses, increasing access to capital and promoting tourism, education and innovation. Companies like dpiX, the governor said, depend on an educated workforce that has the skills to compete globally.
“Companies like dpiX live on innovation,” Hickenlooper said.
dpiX, which manufactures amorphous silicon sensors that are used in digital x-ray machines, was founded in 1999 in Palo Alto, Calif. It bought an empty chip fabrication plant, formerly used by LSI Corp., in 1996 and has spent $100 million upgrading the facility, which employs about 150 people. dpiX president and CEO Frank Caris said Colorado Springs offers the skilled workforce the company needs and a quality of life that makes it attractive for recruiting employees.
Caris said dpiX had considered locating the fabrication plant in Asia, but, in hindsight, thinks Colorado Springs was a better choice and he said he was heartened by the governor’s commitment to economic development.
“Our country, our state and our city needs manufacturing jobs,” Caris said. “I keep saying it, but I think an economy is not sustainable without manufacturing.”
Hickenlooper emphasized the need for an educated and flexible workforce, citing the 36,000 open positions at Microsoft, which recently held its corporate meeting in Denver.
“They can’t find people that are sufficiently skilled,” Hickenlooper said.
He talked about being laid off himself in 1986 and being unable to find work as a geologist.
“The company got sold and we all got laid off,” he said. “I had to retrain myself and learn a completely new industry.”
dpiX plans to shift most of its operations to Colorado Springs, where it still has room for expansion in the plant on Aeroplaza Drive and also owns 23 acres nearby for potential future growth, Caris said. The company’s sensors are used in about 50 percent of the digital x-ray machines in the world, he said.
Dave Csintyan, president and CEO of The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, said he took a tour of dpiX’s facility two weeks ago and immediately thought of it when he heard the governor was looking for a local company that represented of his vision for economic development.
“It was perfect,” Csintyan said. “This is very, very high end manufacturing.”