Space visit: Aerospace industry could partner with Rifle |

Space visit: Aerospace industry could partner with Rifle

Michael Langhorne
Staff Photo |

Could Rifle one day help send a rocket to Mars? How about astronauts back to the moon, or a satellite that travels to some unknown star or planet and enthralls everyone on Earth with spectacular photos?

How many Rifle workers could one day help make that happen?

Answers to those and other questions may not be readily available on Thursday, Aug. 8, but they could be at the heart of the discussion before members of the Colorado Space Business Roundtable at Grand River Hospital.

It will be the last stop on a West Slope swing for roundtable members, who want to see what possibilities might be present to work with local businesses interested in partnering with the aerospace industry, said Michael Langhorne, president of the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp., one of the sponsoring groups for the invitation-only event.

“You never know if anything will come from something like this, but sometimes it can lead to something else that can be positive.”

Michael Langhorne
president, Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp.

The aerospace industry helps employ around 60,000 people along the Front Range, Langhorne noted.

“They’ve been to most of the major parts of the West Slope, and Rifle is the last stop,” he said. “You never know if anything will come from something like this, but sometimes it can lead to something else that can be positive.”

According to its website, the roundtable was initially formed in 1993 under the auspices of the Colorado Office of Space Advocacy and reorganized in 1996 as an independent, nonprofit organization. The roundtable works to promote the growth of space and space-related industry in Colorado, with particular focus on small space businesses.

Members include industry, government, and academia. Industry members represent firms in satellite operations, launch vehicle manufacturing, software and information systems, telecommunications, biotechnology and remote sensing. Members from academia represent Colorado colleges and universities who wish to work with industry to develop a suitable workforce and new technologies.

Government members represent federal, state and local entities that support the space industry with services, advocacy and procurement. Economic development and workforce development agencies typically participate, along with representatives of the Colorado congressional delegation and the military.

High-tech manufacturing, electronics or aviation businesses, those involved in human resources, software development, banking, finance or engineering, are those who might want to look into working with the industry, Langhorne said.

“They’ll be meeting with interested businesses and then Colorado Mountain College educators to talk about curriculum to help develop a workforce they might draw from,” he added.

After a tour of the Garfield County Regional Airport, which Langhorne said could be a key to meeting the aerospace industry’s transportation needs, roundtable members will end their stay in Rifle by attending that night’s Charlie Daniels Band concert at the fairgrounds, compliments of Garfield County.

“We want to show them a good time, too,” he added. “It’s not only a chance for businesses to come out and talk to them.”

While the oil and natural gas industry “will always be our main employer in this area and we need to continue to do all we can to work with them,” Langhorne said diversifying the economy is important, too.

“We want to put our best foot forward,” he said.

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