Colorado's diverse economic base is comprised of these key industries. This diversified economy ensures our state can withstand regular economic cycles.
A vital component to advanced manufacturing is a highly skilled workforce, where skills required of workers are often more advanced and broad than those in other industries. Examples of advanced manufacturing tools and techniques include computer-aided design (CAD), simulations, robotics, laser and enhanced prototyping. Companies in the advanced manufacturing industry often share common characteristics including:
- new processes and machinery
- highly skilled workforce
- new products and materials
- new technologies and techniques
Advanced manufacturing encompasses a variety of industries and products and is based on a company’s high-tech manufacturing processes, machinery, and materials rather than their final products. All NAICS manufacturing codes are included in the advanced manufacturing key industry definition.
- guided missiles
- space vehicles
- satellites and other communications equipment
- navigation and detection instruments
- planetary spacecraft and launch systems
Colorado’s aerospace ecosystem includes cutting-edge space exploration, four military commands and some of the nation’s most renowned research laboratories and universities such as School of Mines and the University of Colorado, and National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Bioscience companies engineer, research, design, wholesale, and manufacture medical equipment and pharmaceutical drugs, and they utilize cellular and molecular biology and medicinal chemistry to develop and commercialize therapeutic medicines.
Companies in the bioscience industry also utilize distinct elements of biochemistry, molecular genetics, and plant physiology to improve human and animal health. Additionally, these companies rely on research and development to improve agricultural output and biofuels.
Companies in the bioscience industry include:
- medical device
- medical laboratories
- research institutions
- businesses that provide critical services and products to bioscience companies
The defense and homeland security industry is made up of government establishments of the Armed Forces, primarily engaged in national security and related activities ranging from simulation and training to military flight training and disaster preparedness.
This industry develops products and solutions to support the military and protect civilian populations from security threats. Colorado’s military installations enable research and development, design, delivery, production and maintenance of military products and services that are essential to deploy, mobilize and sustain military operations.
Colorado’s electronics industry is an important and growing part of Colorado’s economy and supports a number of key industries ranging from aerospace and bioscience to advanced manufacturing.
Companies in this industry provide electronics products, components, and services to a variety of sectors. Specifically, the electronics industry includes businesses engaged in design, manufacture, wholesale, and repair of electronic equipment including:
- computer storage devices
- computer peripheral equipment
- electronic components
- audio, and video recording equipment
- magnetic and optical recording media
It also includes companies in the electronics industry that manufacture:
- optical instruments and lenses
- navigational instruments
- measuring instruments
- electromedical instruments
- control instruments
Examples of products made by these companies include light-emitting diodes (LEDs), remote radiation sensors, optical disks, tape storage, and backup units, hard disk drives, magnetic tapes, integrated circuits, and transistors.
Colorado is a leader in the balanced energy economy with abundant natural resources including:
- natural gas
Colorado’s energy and natural resources industry includes companies involved in the extraction of naturally occurring fuels used to produce energy, as well as the generation, transmission, and distribution of energy resources.
Colorado’s energy companies also provide mining, exploration, and related support services, in addition to metal ore and nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying operations. Energy companies in this industry develop and deliver products and technologies across solar, wind, biomass, fuel cells and hydroelectric resources that improve operational performance, efficiency or productivity. Companies that manufacture renewable energy equipment, storage, and power transformers are also included.
The infrastructure engineering industry includes companies that provide a full spectrum of planning, design, development, operations and maintenance of critical structures, machinery, equipment and other systems.
These companies provide engineering services for all types of industries ranging from construction and transportation to manufacturing and energy. Specifically, the industry includes:
- companies that construct nonresidential buildings
- civil engineering projects ranging from utility, water and solid waste systems to highways, streets and bridges
- contractors specializing in steel and concrete, site preparation, installing and servicing building equipment, and other specialized trades
- companies that manufacture asphalt, coating materials, brick, cement, concrete, and machinery and wholesale, rent, and lease construction and mining machinery and equipment
- infrastructure engineering companies that implement complex projects from initial concept to delivery and operation, which includes consultancy services and building services ranging from architectural, drafting, mapping and surveying to inspection, evaluation, testing, remediation and related services during the construction or installation phase of engineering projects
Technology companies provide engineering services for all types of industries ranging from construction and transportation to manufacturing and energy. Specifically, the industry includes:
- companies that may develop, produce or provide software, hardware, telecommunications, data management, Internet-based services and other information services.
- companies that help deliver voice, data and video to end users, and includes landline and wireless telephone communications companies, radio and television communications services, and cable and Internet service providers
- companies that are involved in activities ranging from the development of off-the-shelf software products to customer computer programming, computer facilities management, computer systems design and data processing services.
- companies that manufacture computers, computer storage solutions to manage and protect business information, storage media, and circuit boards.
- computer training and electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance services
Colorado is a global leader in the creative industries, which include six creative sub-groups: design, film and media, heritage, literary and publishing, performing arts, and visual arts and crafts:
- Design applies artistic content to commercial products, services and the environment, and includes companies that purchase fabrics, design, cut, sew and assemble garments and other sewn products ranging from footwear to handbags and luggage. Companies that provide design-related services (such as architectural, home interiors, graphic, and advertising-related agencies) are also included.
- Film and media companies provide technical and distributive elements of Colorado’s entertainment industry, including companies that provide technical production support systems such as sound, lighting, digital art, animation, sets and studios, broadcasting and distribution channels via motion picture, video and music production companies.
- Heritage includes Colorado’s historical sites, museums and botanical gardens.
- Literary and publishing companies print newspapers, books, labels, stationary and other materials, and perform support activities such as data imaging and bookbinding. Companies that wholesale and publish newspapers, magazines, books, directories and mailing lists, and software are also included.
- Performing arts includes actors, musicians, promoters, producers and directors and the venues at which they perform. Musical instrument and supply stores are also included.
- Visual arts and crafts companies manufacture metal, wood, jewelry, silverware, dolls and stuffed toys, games, musical instruments, wholesale toy and hobby goods, jewelry and precious metals. Photography studios, galleries, photofinishing laboratories, fine arts schools, art dealers, and sewing and needlework stores are also included.
Colorado has a strong heritage in farming and ranching, as well as great depth in natural and organic foods, craft beverages and global restaurant franchises.
Innovation and the determination to succeed continue to define Colorado’s food and agriculture industry, which has persevered since the first pioneers settled the state.
Companies in the food and agriculture industry include:
- crop production and services
- food processing
- agricultural machinery and equipment
- agricultural chemical manufacturing
- food and beverage wholesalers
- food and agricultural-related transportation
- warehousing and storage
- food processing businesses
- manufacturers of malt beverages, wines, distilled liquors, bottled drinks, ice and tobacco products
The food and agriculture industry is linked with several other key industries including energy and natural resources and bioscience because of the similarity in some production processes and raw materials used.
The health and wellness industry includes a dynamic and growing group of companies that provide preventive, curative and rehabilitative services.
Extending beyond health care delivery, the industry represents a continuum of businesses ranging from treating disease to a multidimensional and holistic approach that focuses on complete physical and mental health, social well-being, and disease prevention.
Companies in the health and wellness industry include:
- Offices of physicians, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, mental health practitioners, physical and speech therapists, podiatrists and other health practitioners
- Hospitals ranging from general medical, surgical and psychiatric to substance abuse and specialty care
- Centers focused on family planning, outpatient mental health and substance abuse, kidney dialysis, diagnostic imaging and emergency care
- Companies focused on nursing care, assisted living and long-term care
- Businesses that provide services for individuals, families and the elderly
- Home health equipment rental, fitness and recreation facilities, diet and weight reducing services, and massage and yoga services
- Companies that manufacture ophthalmic goods
- Retailers engaged in vitamins and nutrition supplements
The Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) provides a central point of contact, advocacy, and resources at the state level for the diverse constituents, businesses, and communities that rely on the continued health of the outdoor recreation economy.
OREC's mission is to champion industry, communities, and people to come to life through Colorado’s great outdoors. OREC drives the advancement of the outdoor recreation economy through four major impact areas:
- Economic Development
- Conservation and Stewardship
- Education and Workforce
- Health and Wellness
Tourism is one of the most powerful drivers of Colorado’s economy, creating jobs faster than any other industry sector while fueling business income and tax revenues that support everything from schools to transportation to municipal services. In 2019, Colorado attracted 86.9 million visitors who spent a record $22.3 billion, plus more than 1 million international visitors, who collected and spent $24.2 billion and generated $1.49 billion in state and local taxes.
Tourism includes a variety of sub-sectors ranging from accommodation and attractions to entertainment and heritage tourism. The following sectors and company types generally operate within the tourism industry:
- adventure tourism and outdoor recreation
- events and conferences
- food and beverage
- tourism services
- travel trade
Colorado is a growing global financial center with an innovative ecosystem and an unmatched talent pool. As the “Wall Street of the West,” Colorado’s Front Range is one of the few areas outside of the northeast with a substantial financial services industry in three market segments:
- banking and finance
Banking and finance are comprised of transaction-oriented companies including:
- commercial banks and credit unions
- credit agencies
- mortgage bankers
Investments include companies involved in securities and commodities trade, real estate investment trusts (REITS), and portfolio management. Insurance companies provide all types of insurance ranging from life, accident, and health, to pension and welfare funds businesses.
Colorado’s transportation and logistics industry is an integral part of the state’s economy, supporting the manufacturing base and distribution sectors. The industry is responsible for managing the flow of goods, services, and information between a point of origin and destination to meet customer demand.
This industry includes a variety of components such as:
- other transportation and logistics services
Companies included in this industry include:
- providers of truck, rail and air transportation, ground passenger transportation, and warehousing and storage
- wholesale trade companies that connect goods producers with retailers and distributors in a timely and efficient manner
- producers of non-durable goods and durable goods
- transportation and logistics companies provide the integration of these subsectors, including warehousing, transportation, inventory, packaging, and material handling
- couriers, messengers and transportation support services
- providers of aircraft manufacturing, airport operations, and air traffic control