What has been called a grand vision will become a goal when aerospace industry representatives, education and business leaders and state officials on Thursday officially launch the effort to brand Colorado “Aerospace Alley.”
There will be an online presentation and fundraiser featuring NASA luminaries and state and industry leaders, said retired Maj. Gen. John Barry, president and CEO of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.
The initiative’s goal is to build on Colorado’s position as an aerospace leader and to recruit ambassadors and industry officials to support the demand for talent in the state, Barry said. The museum has started a new website, https://www.coaerospacealley.com/, as part of the campaign.
“We’re putting our flag in the ground and declaring that we can be the Silicon Valley of aerospace by calling it Aerospace Alley,” said Barry, an Air Force combat veteran and a former fighter pilot and military assistant to the Secretary of Defense.
Colorado’s overall private aerospace employment of 30,020 is second only to California’s and is the country’s highest per capita, according to a report by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. The industry contributes more than $15 billion annually to the state economy.
There are nearly 280 aerospace businesses in Colorado and more than 500 companies and suppliers providing space-related products and services. Metro Denver’s report says 57,830 private and military workers in Colorado support an additional 140,390 workers in all industries, bringing direct and indirect jobs supported by the aerospace sector to 198,220.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the industry has continued to expand. Aerospace companies of all sizes have said they are adding jobs.
Barry said several organizations and agencies, including Metro Denver, the Colorado Space Coalition, colleges and universities, have come together to champion the state’s industry and provide support for educating the next generations of scientists, engineers and other workers needed for the growing sector.
The Colorado SKIES Academy, an aerospace-focused charter school for middle school students, opened this year on the campus of the Wings Over the Rockies Exploration of Flight building at the Centennial Airport.
“Our robust and dynamic aerospace ecosystem deserves an identity to protect it and nurture it,” Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said in a statement.
Primavera, chair of the Colorado Space Coalition, said the launch of the effort to brand Colorado as America’s Aerospace Alley “will ensure that Colorado continues to lead, to innovate, and to grow in the crucial aerospace industry.”
Speakers for Thursday’s event will include Gene Kranz, NASA flight director on Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission, and Apollo 13. Former astronaut Eileen Collins, the first female U.S. shuttle commander, will also speak.
This content was originally published here.