Windsor’s Business Development Manager Stacy Johnson works to attract new and prospective businesses for the town every day. Even when having lunch on her day off, she has been known to dole out business cards to prospective restaurants she thinks would be a good fit for the community.
She embraces the always-connected mentality associated with her job. After all, she knows it’s the connectedness that can ultimately lure the area’s next big enterprise to within town limits.
And to a large extent, it seems to be working.
It’s no secret Windsor has seen a jump in construction, population and sales tax during the past several years when many communities across the nation struggled. When construction plateaued across the nation and development stagnated, Windsor continued to see home construction and business growth. With an economy beginning to rebound nationally, the town is poised to welcome a host of new businesses and eventual revenue streams, further defining the community as one of the gems in the state, Johnson said.
“The good news is there’s activity and interest in every section of Windsor — north, east, west and south,” she said. “At every interchange, there’s something going on. There’s churning going on.”
Brunswick bowling alley — a community-defining feature
Perhaps the most highly anticipated project Windsor has seen in years is the $15 million Brunswick Zone XL family fun center slated to go up at the northeast intersection of Fairgrounds Avenue and Crossroads Boulevard. Touted as a regional attraction, the development stands to rake in revenue and kickstart development at the southwestern edge of Windsor, near the Budweiser Events Center.
Part of a broader development that will stretch into Loveland, Windsor’s portion of the project includes the luxurious 49,000-square-foot bowling alley slated to include laser tag, video games and restaurants.
“That’s a regional draw,” Johnson said, adding that it will be more of a meeting place for people than just a bowling alley. “That’s why it’s such a huge draw for us from a standpoint of not only retail to serve that part of Windsor but also a regional draw that will serve multiple jurisdictions, multiple municipalities as well as maybe even multiple states.”
With a location on the outskirts of town, sales tax generation and subsequent draw into the community could be enormous, Johnson said.
That’s why the town board in October authorized $642,000 in infrastructure incentives to attract the developer — Summit Companies. Those improvements included water, sewer and roads. Town officials expect the money to be recovered within three years if development goes as planned.
It is expected to be a first-of-its-kind facility for northern Colorado — and it’s only the start.
A 7-11 convenience store and gas station also is expected to go up in the same area, all of which will help capture what Johnson called business “leakage” on the Larimer side of Windsor. The improvements also open the door for three additional spaces of future retail development — all of which the town as a whole will reap benefits from, including a potentially enormous amounts of sales tax.
“We’re trying to work with them as quickly as we can,” Johnson said, adding that rumblings of specific site plans and build-out information could come forward in the next few weeks. Ground-breaking is slightly behind schedule, but she said it will be fast-tracked with the 7-11 expected to open in the fall and bowling alley potentially opening by spring of 2014.
“It’s been kind of a longer process than we anticipated,” she said. “It’s still coming and we know that. That corner is going to be hopping pretty soon, we hope.”
Indicative of bigger things
During the March 25 Windsor Town Board work session, Johnson updated the board on the status of land use and prospective industries eying Windsor. Through February, there were 10 prospect requests — groups or companies looking to move into town. That’s up slightly from February, 2012, which had eight. The year ultimately saw 90 requests for information, some of which continue to be in closed-door discussions about potential moves.
Energy — including oil and gas — and professional/technical services accounted for a combined 37 percent of prospects, the report indicates. An additional 27 percent of the town’s prospects did not identify their industry when seeking information. What all of that means, Johnson said, is the town continues to be in a lucrative position in attracting jobs, revenue and additional growth.
With such an interest among companies moving to Windsor, the town is seeing a strain on available property, especially in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. Most groups, Johnson said, are searching for spaces between 5,000-10,000 square feet, which the town has in short supply.
“I see this trend continuing, at least for the next couple of years,” she said, adding that Windsor is uniquely situated and does have space to see further construction and industrial development — what she called flex space. “There’s not a lot of that around here, so we’re going to see a lot more development.”
From that development in the industrial or manufacturing sector ultimately comes a need for more homes. And as Johnson pointed out, retail typically follows rooftops meaning subsequent sales tax revenue from new businesses stands to continue strengthening the town as an influential business hub long into the future.
“We’re just kind of really lucky, and my goal is to keep us as diversified as possible,” Johnson said. “I think that’s why northern Colorado has fared so well as a whole.”