California has Silicon Valley. Could Colorado become home to “Aerospace Alley?” – The Denver Post

When Joe Laurienti talks about his team designing a rocket engine in a rented attic in the early days of his aerospace company, it brings to mind stories about Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies that started as projects in somebody’s garage.

Laurienti’s story about his company, Lafayette-based Ursa Major Technologies, might one day be part of industry lore if Colorado becomes known as “Aerospace Alley.”

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Joe Laurienti, founder and CEO of Ursa Major Technologies, poses for a portrait with the company’s Hadley rocket engine Nov. 13 in Lafayette. Ursa Major Technologies is a small start-up that makes engines for rockets launching small satellites.

“It’s a grand vision, but it’s also something that I truly believe is possible,” said retired Maj. Gen. John Barry, president and CEO of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.

It’s not really a moonshot kind of goal, considering that Colorado’s aerospace economy is already second only to California’s. Colorado has 180 aerospace companies and more than 500 businesses that provide space-related products and services. It has the highest concentration of private aerospace employment in the country: 26,620.

And the industry in Colorado supports 190,880 direct and indirect jobs while pumping $15.4 billion into the economy each year.

Although the aerospace industry has a long history in Colorado and the state is home to some of the biggest players — Ball Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Harris Corp., United Launch Alliance and Sierra Nevada Corp. — Barry believes Colorado’s importance to the business goes mostly unrecognized by the public.

After someone suggested Colorado could be the Silicon Valley of aerospace, Barry and others spun off the idea of “Aerospace Alley” and have been spreading the word.

“The industry is like a  jewel that we have right here in Colorado

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