10 companies to watch in 2018

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These 10 companies — some of them startups or recently created and others giants in their industries — will be ones to watch in 2018.


COLORADO SPRINGS AIRPORT

7770 Milton E. Proby Pkwy.

719-550-1900

flycos.com 

Attracting more passengers, more airlines and more companies to its 900-acre business park were all accomplishments for the Colorado Springs Airport in 2017, and they remain goals for the coming year. The passenger count at COS was up more than 30 percent in 2017, and that trend is expected to continue in 2018.

The jump to nearly 900,000 passengers was in part due to Frontier Airlines returning to the Springs, and to the addition of five seasonal non-stop flights to San Francisco, San Diego, the nation’s capital, as well as Tampa and Fort Myers in Florida.

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Frontier will add four seasonal non-stop flights in April to Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Antonio and San Jose, Calif.

COS, the second-busiest commercial service airport in Colorado, serves five airlines: American, Delta, United, Allegiant and Frontier.

The business park added a second Sierra Nevada Corporation facility in November, a 60,000-square-foot aircraft hangar, three months after Cutter Aviation opened its second hangar, a 100,000-square-foot facility, at COS.


GE JOHNSON

25 N. Cascade Ave.,  Suite 400

719-4735321

gejohnson.com

With offices in six cities and three states, GE Johnson Construction Company is staying busy with work in five states, but nowhere is that true more than in Colorado Springs, site of the company’s headquarters.

CEO Jim Johnson runs the company his father began in 1967. More than 50 years later, the business is thriving and working on some of the Springs’ major projects that include the U.S. Olympic Museum, Children’s Hospital Colorado, the St. Francis Medical Center expansion, the Memorial Hospital North expansion and the Pikes Peak Summit House.


POLARIS ALPHA

5450 Tech Center Drive, Suite 400

719-452-7000

polarisalpha.com

Polaris Alpha president Jay Jesse said the company is hiring “50 to 60” new scientists and engineers in Colorado Springs and Denver, and “roughly 120 to 130 nationwide.” Jesse said the new hires will be made in the areas of advanced analytics, enterprise software engineering, cloud computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The company has more than 1,300 employees, with 350 of them in Colorado Springs and nearly 100 in Denver. Polaris Alpha experienced dramatic growth in 2017 as it was involved in two mergers, which led to it being named Company of the Year by the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

Polaris Alpha provides advanced technical capabilities, specialized domain expertise and mission critical solutions to Department of Defense and intelligence community customers.

Colorado Springs-based Intelligent Software Solutions, through a merger with East Coast companies Proteus and EOIR Technologies, created Polaris Alpha near the end of 2016. Polaris Alpha acquired Intelesys Corp. of Elkridge, Md., on Jan. 18, and went on to acquire Denver-based Solidyn Solutions on Sept. 27.

The Air Force extended its five-year, $593 million contract that was awarded in 2012 to Intelligent Software Solutions, for another two years to continue developing intelligence analysis and data fusion software for 70 military commands.

Polaris Alpha has major offices in the Springs, Fredericksburg, Va., Annapolis Junction, Md., Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Alexandria, Va., as well as customer sites both domestically and internationally.


EXPONENTIAL IMPACT

415 N. Tejon St.

719-591-1113

exponentialimpact.com 

Co-founder Vance Brown announced his nonprofit startup, a security tech accelerator, last summer. It will be the first of its kind in Colorado Springs. EI will bring about 10 companies in for an 11-week mentor-driven program that will provide seed funding, housing, hands-on mentorship and leadership. At the end of that period in late summer, companies will make a pitch to potential investors.

“We’re trying to bring in top tech companies from all over the world — about 20 for our Launch Week — and we’ll invite 10 of those to the accelerator program,” said Brown, who is also interim CEO of the National Cybersecurity Center. “Our goal is to have those companies move to Colorado Springs, or at least to Colorado.”

In November, Brown hired Hannah Parsons as CEO; she had been the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC’s chief economic development officer.


CHAPEL HILLS MALL

1710 Briargate Blvd.

719-594-0111

chapelhillsmall.com 

Chapel Hills Mall, a 1.2 million-square-foot indoor facility that is home to more than 100 businesses, faces a pair of foreclosure suits totaling $37 million. A foreclosure auction is scheduled for March 7.

Built in 1982, Chapel Hills Mall was sold to New York-based Garrison Investment Group in 2011. Garrison owes about $35 million on a $43.3 million loan from 2012, and close to $2 million on a $10 million loan from 2014.

Garrison doesn’t own the retail spaces occupied by Dillard’s, Macy’s, Sears or Burlington Coat Factory.


365 GRAND CLUB

719-466-9675

365grandclub.com

Perry Sanders’ 365 Grand Club is expanding its footprint and “getting ready to be a real club,” he said. Marketing itself as an elite urban club, 365 Grand offers discounts, fitness memberships, car service and special deals from local businesses.

“We’re expanding what it has to offer,” said Sanders, owner of The Antlers and Mining Exchange hotels downtown, as well as The Famous and Springs Orleans restaurants. “We’re putting in an outdoor pool and an outdoor hot tub at The Antlers right now. Additionally, we’re building a designated clubhouse on the back half of The Famous building; it’ll have its own private … cigar room.”

Sanders plans to open another The Famous in a three-story building he has in Castle Rock and is expanding the 365 Grand Club to the Sagebrush, a hotel he recently purchased in Taos, N.M.

“Wyndham International is actually in talks with us about rolling [the club] on a very big basis,” he said.


ISSAC CORP.

6760 Corporate Drive

719-725-6900

issaccorp.com

Colorado Springs-based ISSAC Corporation is an advanced data analytics and systems engineering company that grew about 60 percent in 2017 and expects to do the same this year.

“We have been pivoting away from defense and continuing to expand into health care research,” said Tim Jones, the CEO and president, a disabled 20-year Navy veteran who founded the company with his wife, Eve, in 2006. The company, whose name stands for Innovative Support Services and Consulting, also has a satellite office in Huntsville, Ala.

“We’re continuing to expand into federal markets and we’re raising capital for the first time this year,” Jones said. “We’re working with UCHealth, the Mayo Clinic, the Gates Foundation and others. We’ve got three or four irons in the fire that could really go big.”


PEAKMED

421 S. Tejon St. Suite 250;

6915 Tutt Blvd., Suite 100

719-623-3068; 719-380-7325

peakmed.com 

Dr. Mark Tomasulo had a clear vision when he founded PeakMed: Provide quality, affordable health care to individuals and businesses while bypassing the insurance industry. PeakMed has grown rapidly since opening in 2014, and looks to make another major push this year when it seeks another funding round in the $15-$20 million range, according to Tomasulo and Chief Financial Officer Bill Garden. PeakMed has two offices in Colorado Springs, another in the Denver Tech Center, plus four mobile service units that will come to a patient’s home. New offices are scheduled to open in north Colorado Springs in February and in Littleton in March. Garden said the company expects to open more offices along the Front Range when it obtains additional funding.

PeakMed provides family practice medicine using a monthly-membership model that ranges from $79 for an adult to $283 for a family of five or more. Monthly membership includes unlimited doctor visits and 24/7 virtual access, along with house calls for patients who can’t go to the clinic, plus on-site and off-site behavioral health services.

“It’s been a great journey so far,” said Tomasulo, PeakMed’s chief medical officer. “We want to have a full scope of family medicine, from newborn babies to grandma and grandpa, and we take care of some very sick people. The reason we’re successful in the business-to-business lane is we are able to save a lot of money for employers, who are about 75 percent of our business. Our goal is to change the health care industry.”


BLUE STAR GROUP

laaustacoshop.com

poativywild.com

osbativywild.com

The Blue Star Group is looking excitedly to the future, said restaurateur Joe Coleman, who closed two restaurants in 2017 while seeing greater success with another. Although The Blue Star — the company’s flagship property, which shuttered its doors in October after a successful 22-year run on South Tejon Street — won’t reopen in a new spot until 2019, BSG still has big plans for this year.

Coleman is working on a deal for a downtown location for what he called “Blue Star 3.0,” but said he must rent out the restaurant’s longtime location first and get stabilized.

He said La’au’s Tacos on North Tejon enjoyed “its best year” in 2017 and he expects to open a second location, also in 2019, but doesn’t know in which part of town.

“We’ll start looking at locations and studying demographics in the third quarter this year and open in 2019,” Coleman said.

He said a priority is improving efficiency at the Principal’s Office and kitchen at Ivywild School, across from the old Blue Star location, and moving Old South Bakery off-site.

Coleman also closed downtown eatery Nosh, which was located in the Plaza of the Rockies, in 2017. He’s working with Chris Jenkins of Nor’wood Development Group “on a very big project,” he said. “I can tell you it’s a restaurant and I can tell you it’s big.”


NOR’WOOD DEVELOPMENT GROUP

111 S. Tejon St.

719-593-2600

 norwoodinteractive.com

Nor’wood Development Group continues to be a major player in Colorado Springs, as it is the largest landowner in southwest downtown with 18 acres, adjacent to the 1.7 acres it donated for the U.S. Olympic Museum, which broke ground last summer. Nor’wood plans multi-story office and residential development in the area near the museum, according to reports in 2017.

Nor’wood also owns a large portion of Banning Lewis Ranch. Banning Lewis accounts for about 60 percent of developable land in the Springs, and remains in negotiations with the city about infrastructure requirements regarding its part of the large subdivision.

Nor’wood has two apartment buildings in the downtown area that will open in 2018, along with a 65-unit Greenway Flats apartment building constructed in partnership with the Springs Rescue Mission on its campus at 31 W. Las Vegas St. The urban-style apartments done with Griffis/Blessing Inc. are located on the southwest corner of Wahsatch and Colorado avenues and the northeast corner of Cascade Avenue and Rio Grande Street.