Published: March 31, 2011

The federal laboratories in Colorado together with their affiliates contributed $1.5 billion to the state economy in fiscal year 2010, and accounted for more than 16,000 direct and indirect jobs, a new survey shows.

The $1.5 billion impact is a 36 percent increase over the $1.1 billion impact for fiscal year 2007, when the Business Research Division of the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business last conducted a survey and analysis.

The study Impact of Federal Research Laboratories in Colorado, 2009-2010 was done at the behest of CO‐LABS, a consortium of federally funded scientific laboratories, universities, businesses, local governments, and community leaders.

There are 24 federal labs in Colorado, ranging from large institutions such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to smaller organizations such as the Bureau of Reclamation Technical Services Center and the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere.

The new study, released today and available for review at the CO-LABS website at, was prepared to quantify the economic impacts that federal research facilities and their university affiliates have on Boulder, Jefferson, and Larimer Counties, and on the state of Colorado.

The study also aimed to assess the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the Colorado labs and on the surrounding communities. It found that total ARRA construction spending jumped from $2.7 million in FY 2009 to $102.7 million in 2010.

"Colorado is home to some of the most advanced research labs in the world," said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. "Their work impacts every aspect of our lives – from the basic research that created the technology for cell phones to predicting the next tsunami. The labs are critical to our state's economy, providing more than 16,000 jobs in partnership with Colorado universities and industry."

Net economic benefits to Boulder County totaled $463.8 million in FY 2010, while the totals for Jefferson and Larimer counties were $413.2 million and $99.5 million, respectively. Economic benefits to the rest of the state totaled $523 million. In total, the facilities account for 7,964 direct jobs in Colorado and an additional 8,521 indirect jobs in FY 2010.

Total construction at the facilities, which occupy 4.7 million square feet of leased and owned real estate, topped $84 million in FY 2009 and $201 million in FY 2010.

The study is an update of an economic impact study conducted for CO‐LABS by the Leeds School's Business Research Division in 2008. The study was titled "CO‐LABS Economic Impact Study: The Impact of Federally Funded Research Laboratories in Colorado."

The study applied the framework of the Insight Colorado Model to gather data, and utilized IMPLAN to quantify the economic and fiscal impacts of federal research facilities and their affiliates by examining:

--Economic benefits, such as dollars distributed through the economy

--Public revenues, such as tax revenues generated, and

--Public costs such as providing government services to the labs and their employees.

The sources of the impacts include construction, operations, and off-site and secondary effects. Secondary or multiplier effects estimate the indirect employment and earnings generated due to the relationship between the labs and other industries. A lab that spends money on goods and services, while offering partnerships and internships, for example, supports other jobs and other manufacturing operations. The presence of its employees supports retail, entertainment and other industries.

Below is a list of federally funded research entities in Colorado identified by CO-LABS:

Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior (BuRec)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC/DVBID)

Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA)

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)


Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics (LASP)

National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

--Earth System Research Laboratory

--National Geophysical Data Center

--National Weather Service

--National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

--Space Weather Prediction Center

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)

--National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

--Natural Resources Research Center

--National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation

--Crops Research Laboratory

--Central Great Plains Research Station

U.S. Department of Agriculture - Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)

U.S. Department of Agriculture - National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC)

DOT/FRA-Transportation Technology Center (TTC)

U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA)

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

CO‐LABS, a consortium of federally funded scientific laboratories, universities, businesses, local governments, and community leaders, was organized to establish Colorado as a global leader in research, technology innovation, and commercialization.