Advancing Longmont: First time economic effort ready to launch

November 10, 2014

This is an excerpt from an article published in the Longmont Times-Call about our work for the City of Longmont, Colorado.

Advance Longmont has a catchy ring.

“Advance Longmont is more than a tagline, or a trendy marketing phrase,” explained Andy Bade, chairman of the Longmont Area Economic Council (LAEC). “Advance Longmont represents months of work by dozens of individuals and organizations, with the common goal of moving Longmont’s economic development efforts forward.”

It’s the first time Longmont has ever undertaken such a large economic development project, its members say.

The purpose of the plan was to provide an evaluation of Longmont’s workforce, infrastructure, existing industry and entrepreneurial approach. It also sought to assess competitive advantages for attracting, retaining and growing business and to determine a blueprint for continued economic development.

Why now? Call it a perfect storm of sorts. In the midst of staffing and organizational changes last year, the city and LAEC decided collectively that it was time to put more effort into identifying target industries that would fit Longmont. From those discussions Advance Longmont was born.

The plan

The Advance Longmont project includes the targeted industry research conducted by Avalanche Consulting, which began a year ago, as well as the implementation plan that will focus on each industry with the collective efforts of more than 10 community organizations. The LAEC is coordinating this project.

“Moving forward, Longmont will be marketed by all partners together, all pulling in the same direction,” Bade said. “This is the first time such an effort has been undertaken in the history of Longmont’s economic development efforts.”

So how does it all work?

It started with a market assessment which examined Longmont’s current competitive position, assets and opportunities. This phase included a review of recent studies and data on the local economy, stakeholder input sessions engaging Longmont’s leaders, businesses and an in-depth analysis of relevant economic and demographic data.

Phase two was the Target Industry Analysis, which evaluated the performance of Longmont’s current industry and occupational base as related to national industry trends and site selection needs. This process helped determine appropriate target industry audiences for Longmont’s economic development efforts.

The third phase involved a reverse site selection assessment. This stage of Advance Longmont tested the target industries recommended in phase 2, evaluating Longmont’s competitiveness, and making recommendations on target adjustments and local product improvements.

Today the plan is into the fourth and final phase: implementation. This is where a lot of the hard work begins, going well into 2015 and beyond.

The targets

After a year of research and analysis, the targeted industries are advanced technology; bioscience; creative arts and culinary arts; and professional services and IT. It’s believed that these four areas are well-suited to what Longmont has to offer. What does Longmont offer?

According to Avalanche Consulting, just about everything you could imagine.

“Longmont is uniquely positioned at the intersection of high technology and traditional manufacturing,” the Avalanche report states. “With deep roots in agriculture, manufacturing and high tech, Longmont has grown as a residential destination with a welcoming nature, vibrant outdoor lifestyle, and a do-it-yourself attitude. The city’s publicly owned utility offers some of the most affordable and reliable service in the state, and residents recently voted to continue expansion of the public, fiber optic broadband network, a priceless asset for businesses and residents alike.

“Geographically located between two major research universities, Longmont draws from a broad pool of talent, including manufacturing workers and software engineers. Longmont offers a joining of affordability, infrastructure, workforce, education, and quality of life that is rare and increasingly sought in the modern economy.”

Read the full article in the Longmont Times-Call.