Two Colorado trade associations are partnering to launch the FourFront Fuse Impact Center at Catalyst Campus, according to a news release issued by the O’Neil Group Company, which is developing the campus. The center is scheduled to open in February with a formal launch in late March or early April.
“After several months of community discussions, Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance has selected to launch the Southern Colorado center at Catalyst Campus,” the release said. “CAMA entered into an agreement with the Southern Colorado Technology Alliance, a recently formed 501(c)6 nonprofit trade association, for businesses operating in the information technology, cyber, aerospace, defense, electronics and manufacturing industry sectors. CAMA has committed [more than $1 million] to launch the FourFront Fuse Center at Catalyst Campus, which will cover programming, support services, virtual technology and personnel for the first two years of a four-year agreement with SCTA.”
CAMA was selected by the state to oversee implementation of a $6.6 million grant from the Department of Defense to establish advancement centers intended to help defense companies and manufacturers grow, advance and diversify into new markets. The public-private partnership has its sights set on accelerating the growth and resiliency of manufacturers across Colorado’s Advanced Industries, with a particular focus on Colorado’s defense businesses.
The aerospace and defense industry sector is a critical element to FourFront’s mission of supporting the diversification and growth of defense impacted companies, according to the release, adding the first program launched in Southern Colorado is a Defense Assistance Program where DoD-impacted companies have the opportunity to participate in a corporate diagnostic assessment and potentially receive a $15,000 voucher for services to enhance and grow their company. The program will help firms reduce their dependency on Defense Department contracts by encouraging diversification into other growing industries or defense areas. After the completion of diagnostic assessments for initial defense participants, consulting services will be provided in planning, sales and marketing, market diversification and training.
“Catalyst Campus is pleased with CAMA’s decision to launch the Fuse Center in Southern Colorado,” said Kevin O’Neil, president and CEO of the O’Neil Group Company. “Fuse gives our community additional recognition at the state level and provides a collaborative platform. … We appreciate the time and effort Tim Heaton, president of Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, and Karla Tartz, CAMA consultant, have devoted to this partnership.”
“Collaboration and alignment is a critical element in building and creating resources for advanced industry businesses and manufacturers,” Heaton said in the release. “We are excited at the opportunity to work with Kevin O’Neil and his team and be part of the great infrastructure they are building.”
According to Ingrid Richter, economic development director for the O’Neil Group Company, the center will initially create four full-time positions “that will likely grow as programming grows.
“The Fuse Impact Center will provide business growth and support services for various industries. Economic metrics will be tracked to determine the impact of the companies served,” she said.
Out of the $1 million in funding, $400,000 will go to local wages, which will be matched by SCTA over the four-year agreement, Richter said.
“Initial funding from CAMA will launch the center and sustain it for first two years,” she added. “SCTA will contribute matching dollars over years three and four for continued sustainment. After four years, the goal is for FourFront and SCTA to become self-sufficient through the implementation of value-add programming and membership fees.”
FourFront will occupy approximately 2,500 square feet of the train station’s 25,000-square-foot floor plan, to include a virtual “infopresence” technology room, a training room and CAMA offices.
The Fuse Center, in partnership with SCTA, will offer business growth and support services to small- and medium-sized businesses to grow and diversify in existing markets or expand into new markets. Business support services will include company diagnostics, strategic planning, professional services, R&D opportunities, workforce training and more.
The Catalyst Campus facility and the co-located Fuse Center will be connected to manufacturers across the state through three other Fuse Impact Centers located in metro Denver, Northern Colorado and the Western Slope. Each Center will house collaboration and training equipment including virtual telepresence technology allowing access and engagement for statewide training sessions, meetings and connectivity to the other FourFront Fuse centers.
The Catalyst Campus is a geographical space of approximately eight acres and physical space of about 100,000 square feet, designed so various sectors of advanced industry (to include aerospace and defense, technology and information and advanced manufacturing) converge to collaborate on innovative ideas that promote technological advancement and ultimately, the creation of high-skilled, high-paying jobs.
Richter said negotiations with additional organizations to fill space on the campus are underway, but there are no other announcements to date.