Rich-Burchfield

While Colorado Springs’ classified defense and intelligence operations may fly under the radar, its influence on our community, state and nation knows no bounds.

The Colorado Springs region is rich in military assets and defense investments, representing more than 45 percent of our local economy and contributing to an annual state economic impact of $36.6 billion.

2018 has presented an increased focus on the impact aerospace and defense sectors play in our country’s national security and the role of Colorado Springs in that mission.

Case in point: Hallmarked by a reputation of military excellence, and with steadfast community support, the U.S. Army announced in September the installation’s 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team will convert to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team and remain at Fort Carson (other communities were in play). The decision equates to approximately 3,500 troops, 5,000 family members and $336 million in economic benefit.

Now, as the conversation on National Security Space ramps up in Washington, D.C., Colorado Springs is positioned at the front of a horizon of significant change. This ranges from the standup of U.S. Space Command and, down the road, impacts from the president’s call for a Space Force.

The stakes have never been higher in the Department of Defense landscape, and in Colorado Springs and across the state, we’re working together to ensure top officials understand our regional, significant military ecosystem and our support of national security.

During the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC’s recent annual D.C. Fly In, military, elected and business representatives engaged with senior Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force and Congressional leadership to discuss the role Colorado already plays and can continue to offer in the safeguarding of our nation. These conversations center around four key pillars: industry, academia, military and partnerships.

These mainstays provide a strong, collaborative and cohesive defense ecosystem that blends agility, innovation and partnerships. While we have become accustomed to this integrated way of working, we find it’s more unique than we realize.

That’s why the Chamber and EDC is working closely with our elected delegations in this growing conversation and are teamed with the Aurora and Denver Metro Chambers of Commerce, Jefferson County EDC, and the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade and Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to shape and share our message. This partnership demonstrates the teamwork Colorado brings to the national stage to support big ideas and initiatives.

This collaboration extends beyond installations and those who directly serve. In our community, defense industry companies and contractors are working together to further build this key sector and bring additional economic benefit to our region.

Take for example Boeing, a prime contractor and system architect working for more than 15 years in close partnership with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to design and build the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system that could be launched in response to a missile strike against North America. Work like this includes more than 1,800 Boeing employees in Colorado, and ties to more than 150 suppliers and vendors, with 32 of those companies from Colorado Springs.

Companies like Boecore, Polaris Alpha, Northrup Grumman and many others are also taking the lead in the areas of military infrastructure, intelligence and innovation — work that is paying off in support of national security and our local community in the way of high-quality job growth and significant investment.

Threading together this fabric of military support, industry and leadership is one thing — collaboration. Amid a very dynamic time, we have opportunities to influence the outcome of mission sets that can positively impact the economic growth of our community and continue to bolster our nation’s security.

My ask of you as neighbors and advocates is this: Stay informed on these and other evolving topics and join others who work in support of our military; then, remain ready to be a voice that makes a difference when called upon. If I, the Chamber & EDC and our partners can be a resource to you, please let us know.

We stand at a point in time where local communities’ understanding of and willingness to engage in support of future mission growth has never been more important.

Rich Burchfield is the chief defense development officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC. He may be reached at rburchfield@cscedc.com or cscedc.com.

Rich Burchfield is the chief defense development officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC. He may be reached at rburchfield@cscedc.com or cscedc.com.

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