Broomfield could attract Texas satellite company and 906 jobs

CesiumAstro, a rapidly expanding maker of space communications equipment, is looking at Boulder County for a new 100,000-square-foot factory that could create more than 900 jobs in the state and churn out two satellites a day when it is up and running.

The Colorado Economic Development Commission on Thursday awarded the company $12.4 million in Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit in return for the creation of 906 jobs over eight years. Those credits can be used against future state tax obligations.

The jobs are expected to pay an average annual wage of $104,819, which is 121% of the average annual wage in Boulder County. CesiumAstro currently has 140 employees, including 40 in Broomfield at 105 Edgeview Drive. It is also considering Austin, its headquarters city, for the new plant.

“It has been a great team effort and we are very enthusiastic about expanding here,” Christopher Meyers, director of business development for the company, told members of the EDC.

CesiumAstro, which applied for the incentives under the codename Project Cesium, was founded in 2017 by longtime Lockheed Martin Space Systems executive Shey Sabripour, who helped develop low-Earth orbit satellites at the defense contractor. His new company counts NASA and the U.S. Air Force among its customers and has the backing of venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins and Airbus Ventures.

The company has developed hardware that uses active phased arrays or steerable beams of radio waves, enhancing that hardware with software that puts signals together. The company claims its technology allows devices to better communicate in space and on the ground at a lower cost than systems that rely on base stations.

The company is also looking to move beyond building communications gear and payloads to building satellites, with a goal of completing two satellites a day at its new plant starting in 2025. Low-Earth-orbit satellites are smaller and lighter, allowing for several to be launched at once into space.

The EDC extended another large incentive award, worth $3.8 million, to a startup company, codenamed Project Cranium, that is focused on using prefabricated net-zero panels and 3-D construction printing to build more affordable housing, a key focus of the Polis administration.

Project Cranium is looking at locating its headquarters in El Paso County and creating 381 new jobs paying an average annual wage of $64,383, which is just above the average annual wage in that county. The company, which currently has six employees, has an incentive offer in hand from the state of Kansas and is waiting on one from Texas.

Another awardee Thursday could help Colorado with its goal of landing its share of new semiconductor manufacturing, which the Biden administration is trying to return onshore by offering $39 billion in incentives under the CHIPS & Science Act.

Project Dots could bring 189 additional jobs to El Paso County. The company designs and makes nontraditional semiconductors that can be placed in glass and flexible materials. That flexibility of the substrate makes the chips useable as digital sensors in a variety of applications.

The company currently has 135 workers based in Colorado and the average annual wage of the proposed jobs would be $96,866, which is 161% of the average in El Paso County.

Project Dots is also looking at Arizona and New York, states that have been aggressive in pursuing chip industry jobs. The EDC extended $2.8 million in Job Growth Incentive Tax Credits to sway its decision.

The fourth incentive award, worth $5.3 million, went to Project Fire, a global sports and entertainment company with 30,000 employees, including 74 currently in Colorado. Project Fire is looking to establish a new headquarters in either Denver or a Texas city and bring in or hire 150 workers to staff it. The average annual wage for the Denver jobs would be $230,733, which is 2.5 times what workers in the city typically make in a year.

The company has an in-office policy, meaning it could help out Denver’s struggling office market in addition to bringing in high-paying management jobs.

Combined, the incentives awarded Thursday could help bring 1,626 jobs to the state if the companies involved all choose locations in Colorado and follow through with their initial hiring plans.

Mike Landes, senior business development manager at the Colorado Office of Economic Development, said several companies who received awards are planning to announce decisions in favor of Colorado soon and that there is a big pipeline of additional awards the office will bring before the EDC in coming months.

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