The Colorado Space Business Roundtable meet with local schools, visits area businesses
by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin headquartered in Denver, paid a visit to Trinidad and Las Animas County Thursday, Aug. 21. The southern Colorado tour is an effort to help stimulate economic development in the area.
Joe Rice, who does government relations for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, is also on the board of the Colorado Space Business Roundtable. “The roundtable is the organization that is conducting these business development road-trips. So that’s why you have people such as Gina Taranto from the Space Foundation, others from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Redstone. Also there is a number of community business partners, space affiliated organizations and businesses that make up the roundtable,” Rice said during a conversation with the World Journal.
There are three goals the group hopes to achieve during their visit. Business partners of the roundtable hope to first, make contact with suppliers and subcontractors for the aerospace industry. Second, they want to promote aerospace. “And the third is to support STEM education programs,” said Rice.
Lockheed, Ball Aerospace and United Launch Alliance all need suppliers and subcontractors and the industry has a hard time finding them. “We have a large number of government contracts,” Rice noted. “They have ‘set-a-sides’ where 23 percent of suppliers and subcontractors need to be in certain categories: veterans, women-owned businesses, and historically under-utilized business zones. All of southern Colorado falls into the final category. That’s why we’re out here looking for suppliers and subcontractors.”
Rice contacted Action 22, an organization of 22 Colorado counties, which put the roundtable in contact with Audra Garret, the assistant city manager for Trinidad. She organized the visit.
The visit brought the group in contact with Topar Machine Shop of Trinidad. Topar had a contract with Lockheed Martin in the past and was enthused to possibly receive another one. The business had gone into another direction since the last contract and now the company would like to come back and work with aerospace.
“There might be other businesses in southern Colorado and Trinidad that either were in some aspect of aerospace or could be.
The ‘could be’ has two general categories: There’s the technical stuff like space craft parts, wire harnesses and composites. Then there’s the support services such as laundry that can provide clean room garments which are the specialized garments worn when working on satellites. The industry is having a hard time finding somebody to administer that contract.
Suppliers for the aerospace industry are found in multiple locations across the country with contracts in Alabama, Colorado and Florida. Therefore, a logistics contractor is vital to coordinate the shipments. A logistics contractor could administer such a contract from Trinidad.
“We have needs that are unmet in the aerospace industry so we need to get out to nontraditional places to look for people who might fit those needs,” said Rice.