Denver Revs Up to Recruit Aviation Jobs

Denver's ongoing quest to land new jobs now includes reaching out to airplane manufacturers, maintenance companies and other aviation-related businesses.

Economic development officials have decided to actively target such companies as part of their recruiting efforts, elevating aviation into a select group of industries identified as having growth potential in Denver.

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. will work to identify and contact aviation businesses seeking to expand.

"We want to show them what we have to offer," said Tom Clark, president of the organization.

Recruiting efforts include attending trade shows and meeting company executives. Aviation jobs in the Denver area pay an average of about $42,000 annually, lower than most other industries targeted for recruitment. But the aviation industry provides plenty of opportunities for workers with different skill levels, said Patty Silverstein, an economist at Development Research Partners.

"We recognize that not everybody here is going to be a rocket scientist," Silverstein said. "So we look to provide a balance of skill sets and opportunities."

Economic development officials previously focused on retaining aviation jobs. The Denver area, though, has gained hundreds of such jobs in recent years.

Although employee numbers are below pre-Sept. 11, 2001, levels, they rose 9.2 percent last year.

Part of that growth has been -fueled by commercial airlines and expansion at Denver International Airport, which has created more business for support companies. The region also has benefitted from several startups developing lightweight aircraft.

"Six years ago small jets appeared to be a hobby, and now it's becoming a real industry," Clark said. "There is opportunity there."


Denver's wish list

* Industries targeted for recruitment, with average salaries:

Aerospace   $96,415

Aviation   $42,247

Biotech   $55,000 to $81,000

Energy   $42,000 to $67,000

Financial serv.   $56,000 to $113,000

Software   $44,142 to $82,294

Source: Development Research Partners

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