A new center operated by two trade associations will open next month in the Catalyst Campus near downtown Colorado Springs to help defense contractors diversify into new markets to cope with military budget cuts and to help manufacturers develop new markets and start using advanced technologies.
The FourFront Fuse Impact Center will be operated by a partnership of the Golden-based Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (CAMA) and the 5-month-old Southern Colorado Technology Alliance (SCTA) and financed with more than $1.1 million from CAMA that eventually will be matched by SCTA. The 2,500-square-foot center, scheduled to open Feb. 18, will be one of four such facilities around the state, including one that recently opened in downtown Denver and two others that are expected to open in the next year or so in northern Colorado and the Western Slope.
The Colorado Springs center initially will focus on helping defense contractors affected by automatic cuts to the defense budget under the so-called sequestration process that began in 2013 to curb growing federal budget deficits, said Jahr Turchan, hired earlier this month as the center's director. The center's four-person staff will help five contractors who are in the middle of qualifying for economic adjustment grants that come in the form of vouchers for up to $15,000 for consulting services in strategic planning, sales and marketing, market diversification and training.
"The center here will have a strong focus on defense-related industries. Our goal is to establish the program here with a handful of companies, get through the process (of getting them help) and expand to the Denver and Fort Collins areas but also to help strengthen the entire manufacturing ecosystem with an emphasis on aerospace, defense and homeland security, software engineering, cyber security, electronics, technology and information and advanced manufacturing," Turchan said. "We will keep metrics and compare them over time to determine whether they are increasing sales and employment."
CAMA is using funds to open and operate the Colorado Springs center from a $6.6 million Department of Defense grant the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade received to help defense contractors and manufacturers grow, adopt new technologies, and diversify into new markets. The SCTA was formed in August with a $50,000 donation from The O'Neil Group Co. LLC but eventually hopes to raise more than $1 million from corporate sponsors, members, fees from programs and other sources, said Ingrid Richter, the association's interim executive director.
The center will be one of several tenants housed in the Catalyst Campus, which is expected to open later this year as a "hub for technology" and a collaborative space that could accommodate up to 40 tenants as well as attract workers and create jobs in the Colorado Springs area. The campus is located in a former railroad station and nearby office buildings totaling nearly 100,000 square feet on the eastern edge of downtown Colorado Springs that was acquired in 2014 by OGC RE1 LLC, a limited liability company created by The O'Neil Group.
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