Colorado targets 1,000 manufacturing jobs with two large incentive awards

The Colorado Economic Development Commission approved nearly $18 million worth of state incentives on Thursday morning for two companies looking to create nearly 1,000 manufacturing jobs through expansions in Colorado Springs and Louisville.

Project Salsa, the codename given to a semiconductor manufacturer in El Paso County, received $12.4 million in job growth incentive tax credits linked to the creation of up to 644 jobs over the next eight years. The company, which is running out of space at its current facility, is weighing whether to expand in Colorado or Arizona, Oregon or Virginia, said Michelle Hadwiger, director of global business development with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

The jobs being added include engineers, technicians and plant managers, and would come with an average annual wage of $88,024, which is 167% of the average annual wage in El Paso County. The expansion would fit in with a national effort to create more semiconductor manufacturing capacity domestically, which would leave the country less vulnerable to supply chain disruptions.

Project Salsa has purchased land near its current plant, which could be interpreted as a sign it had already decided where it is going to expand, said Jeff Kraft, director of business funding and incentives at OEDIT. Any new jobs supported with state incentives must be competitive, meaning that they could go elsewhere. Otherwise, local companies would hit up the state for tax credits whenever they were expanding.

But those land costs are just a fraction of the $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion the company plans to invest in a potential plant expansion, and the state is treating that land purchase as an option rather than a commitment, Kraft said.

“We do feel comfortable in this case that this is a very competitive situation,” he told commissioners.

The EDC also approved nearly $4.5 million in job growth incentive tax credits for Project Cell, a gene-editing biotech company that has developed a platform for precision cell engineering. The company has told the state it plans to create 340 new jobs paying an average annual wage of $132,941, which is 128% of the average annual wage in Boulder County.

Project Cell, which has ties to the University of Colorado Boulder, has a research facility in Louisville that employs about 40 people. The company is looking to invest $10 million near-term to expand that research capacity. In a second phase, it plans to invest another $30 million to $50 million to launch manufacturing operations later this year.

Hadwiger said the company would add to Louisville’s growing bioscience industry cluster and the jobs and investment would help a community that is recovering from the Marshall fire.

OEDIT announced Thursday that Greenfield Holdings, which received an award of $162,974 in job growth incentive tax credits in February, has chosen Denver over New Orleans, Houston and Chicago for its corporate headquarters, which will bring 20 new jobs to the city at an average annual wage of $83,725.

Greenfield Holding is constructing a grain export facility in Louisiana and is looking at additional facilities along the Mississippi River. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted grain production in that country, which is a leading exporter of wheat and other food items.

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