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Hewlett-Packard Co.

Company helped foster Colorado's technology sector


Source: Northern Colorado Business Report

Author: Maryjo Faith Morgan

It's arguable that Hewlett-Packard Co. is the single most influential private company on the Northern Colorado landscape - even the entire Front Range.

That influence comes not just from the sheer size of its footprint - with major facilities in Fort Collins, Loveland, Colorado Springs and some 5,000 employees statewide - but its role as a pioneer in the state's high-tech sector.

The California-based technology giant built its first plant outside of California in Loveland.

As the story goes, when HP was looking for sites for expansion beyond Palo Alto, setting parameters involved a compass and a U.S. map. First drawn was a circle around areas within an hour's drive of an airport that offered nonstop flights to San Francisco. Next came a set of circles defining places within a half-hour's drive from a major


It didn't hurt that co-founder David Packard was a Colorado native, which helped to put the state in the hunt. Thus Longmont, Boulder and Loveland became eligible, and, after active pursuit by local leaders, HP agreed to build a facility in Loveland in 1960.

HP came back to Colorado in 1962, when it decided to build in Colorado Springs. That decision was followed by a new plant in Fort Collins in 1976, and Greeley in 1982.

In all three Northern Colorado cities, establishment of the new HP plants helped to set a course for residential and commercial development - Loveland to the south, Fort Collins to the east and Greeley to the west.

In Greeley, Hewlett-Packard also donated 70 acres to the city for the 18-hole Boomerang golf course and 20 acres for baseball fields. The Greeley plant eventually closed down in 2003, but new owners have since acquired the facility with plans to bring in new manufacturing tenants.

Furthermore, HP's growth in Northern Colorado spawned the need for peripheral and support industries. And with HP serving as a talent source, numerous high-tech startups were created and in some cases still prosper. The company's presence also made other companies - Advanced Energy Industries Inc., Celestica Colorado and recently Intel Corp. - more willing to come to town.

In addition to its payroll - hundreds of millions of dollars each year across the state - HP's personnel policies also set the pace for employment practices in the region. Terms such as employee profit-sharing plans, flex time, job-sharing, tuition reimbursement, telecommuting and virtual teams, became part of the business lexicon as smaller companies looked to emulate the "HP Way."

As the technology sector has struggled in recent years, HP has suffered with it, making numerous job cuts and trimming back on some of the legendary benefits. Still, the legacy is unmistakable.

HP's corporate donations to public schools and universities, as well as volunteer hours logged by employees, continues to make it a model corporate citizen. HP earned the Bravo! Entrepreneur Regional Spirit award in 1998 for its community contributions.

HP gave birth in 1999 to Agilent Technologies Inc., when the company decided to spin off its test-and-measurement division. Agilent now operates facilities in Loveland and Fort Collins alongside the HP operations, and provides some of the same critical economic development influence.

Together, HP and Agilent employ nearly 5,000 people in Northern Colorado and at least 8,000 statewide.

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