Colorado has been building an infrastructure and logistics empire for decades. Now it has the corporate capital investment to match.
On March 6, BNSF Railway announced that construction is underway at its newest logistics center, Logistics Center Hudson, a fully permitted development that is designed to help customers more easily reach Denver and surrounding markets via new rail-served sites. Like other BNSF Logistics Centers, customers that locate at Hudson can save nine months or more of development time and expense.
Logistics Center Hudson is a 430-acre facility featuring 15 sites for customers who want to ship via individual railcars and a unit train site for customers who ship entire trainloads. The site is located about 25 miles north of Denver International Airport and 30 miles northeast of downtown Denver. It offers unrestricted access to a high-population-growth area where the industrial market continues to strengthen.
“Establishing logistics centers, including the one in Hudson, is the latest way we are working to make sure new, existing and potential customers who want to locate on rail in a densely populated, growing industrial market have the option to do so,” said Colby Tanner, assistant vice president for economic development for BNSF Railway. “By purchasing and developing land in advance, we can help our customers save time and money when they are looking to expand or relocate their facility.”
BNSF is not alone. Other major corporations are joining BNSF in developing large logistics centers in Colorado. Recently, both Amazon and United Parcel Service made major announcements of new projects. Amazon decided to develop 452,000 sq. ft. of logistics space in Aurora in Adams County, where the world’s largest online retailer is expected to add over 1,000 new jobs. UPS followed suit by announcing it would create a 360,000-sq.-ft. logistics operation in Aurora and hire 700 workers.
Hyperloop One, meanwhile, continues to evaluate Colorado as a potential location of its first commercial track, and French self-driving shuttle company EasyMile set up its U.S. headquarters in Denver, where it debuted its autonomous shuttle bus.
Michelle Hadwiger, director of global business development for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, said that Colorado’s unique array of transportation assets make the state a natural fit for logistics investors.
“For transportation and logistics industry companies that are pioneering new technologies, Colorado’s greatest asset is undoubtedly its highly educated workforce,” Hadwiger says. “We have an amazing concentration of engineering talent that can take transportation technology to the next level.”
Nearly 17,000 companies have transportation or logistics-related operations in the state, employing a total of 200,000 workers. In addition, some 9,800 firms are engaged in infrastructure engineering in Colorado and employ another 137,200 people.
“Our geographic location is also ideal for companies that want convenient access to major population centers in the western half of the U.S.,” adds Hadwiger. “We have seen many companies whose projects include major logistical components choose to set up operations in Colorado specifically for the excellent highway access to the California market. By setting up in Colorado, they get the benefits of a lower-cost business environment than if they had set up their operations within California itself, but can keep logistical costs relatively low.”
The transportation network in Colorado is globally competitive, with 956 miles of interstate highway and 9,000 total highway miles, 3,000 miles of Class 1 rail track and intermodal train/truck facilities, 1,700 daily flights from Denver International Airport, 80 airports across the state, and 35 miles of light rail. DIA also boasts 170 daily nonstop flights and is ranked as the 15th busiest airport in the world.
Colorado is also home to the Transportation Technology Center, located in Pueblo. It serves as the premier facility in the U.S. for testing rail technology.
The state is not standing pat, however. Under the new administration of Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado Department of Transportation is taking a fresh look at the future of transportation in Colorado. The state recently tore up its $9-billion transportation improvement plan and is going to all 64 counties statewide for input to make sure it addresses top priorities.
Constant improvement of the state’s transportation network has resulted in the flow of more investment capital from expanding companies, notes Hadwiger. “We are seeing a great deal of activity among ecommerce fulfillment centers and sorting centers,” she says. “Amazon has multiple fulfillment and distribution centers up and down the I-25 corridor, which runs through major population centers of Colorado. In addition, companies like Symbia are growing quickly and are expanding their reach from facilities in Colorado.”