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Department of Defense and related activities produce a $36.6 billion economic impact on Colorado’s economy, according to a news release issued today by the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

The results of a new study show the impacts are much higher and farther reaching than initially understood, according to the release, and represent more than 7 percent of the state’s total economy in terms of employment, earnings and state tax revenues.

“The data shows that the state’s defense sector is a significant economic driver along the front range and, most importantly, in smaller counties across the state,” the release said. “Local employment, incomes, sales and tax revenues are all enhanced by DoD activities, especially when factoring income from military retiree and veteran pensions and compensation.”

The report was performed by Summit Economics LLC and commissioned by the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC and Military Affairs Council, the Aurora Chamber of Commerce and Defense Council, and PuebloPlex. It updates the economic aspects of a 2015 study authorized and funded by the Colorado legislature and administered by the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, according to the release. The updated report adds the economic and fiscal impacts of military retirees, veterans and the Veterans Administration’s expenditures in Colorado.   

In the release, Governor John Hickenlooper said Colorado is “a community that truly supports our military.

“The data contained in this report is impressive in scope and highlights the win-win nature of our role as a major center for national defense,” he added.      

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Rich Burchfield, chief defense development officer with the Chamber & EDC, said Colorado is “experiencing significant returns on investment in defense related sectors,” especially emerging technologies and applications.

“Space, cyber, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, robotics, nano-technology, manufacturing and the interface between defense and commercial firms are a source of strength for Colorado’s economy,” Burchfield said in the release.

An example of Colorado’s defense and manufacturing strength can be found in small business owner Alicia Svaldi who owns and operates Faustson Tool, a 20-person woman-owned firm located in Arvada.

Faustson Tool takes on the most challenging applications that only a few U.S. companies can handle, using state-of-the-art precision machining to do things no one else in the industry thinks can be done. Faustson’s capability to pioneer new and emerging technologies makes them one of the only companies in the U.S. capable of manufacturing key components for NASA’s Kepler space telescope and for the U.S. F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jet, a fifth-generation combat aircraft that is designed to perform ground attack and air superiority mission.

“The F-35 cannot fly without this small Colorado company making two critical fuselage components,” Tom Bugnitz said in the release.

Bugnitz is CEO of Manufacturer’s Edge, the official representative of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network in Colorado.  

“Faustson Tool is typical of Colorado aerospace companies — very small, yet highly innovative in serving critical roles in the national defense supply chain,” Bugnitz said.

Colorado is revolutionizing the defense and aerospace industry with more than 400 companies who are leading and supporting groundbreaking missions, a variety of military commands, cutting-edge space exploration programs and renowned research laboratories and universities, the release said.

“The good news from this report is that Colorado’s companies are a source of opportunity for future growth,” Burchfield said.