DENVER, Feb. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A few years ago, when Ricardo Bottome was considering starting a U.S. division of Germany-based company Gibbon Slacklines, he looked across the country for the best place to locate his business and determined that Boulder, Colo., was by far the most logical choice.
"We chose the Metro Denver region, specifically Boulder, because it has a young energetic community that is interested in every possible sport," said Bottome, president of Gibbon Slacklines U.S.A.
Due to the growing popularity of slacklining and the national attention the sport received during the recent Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, Bottome added that he is expecting to double the company's workforce in the next year.
Expansions by companies such as Gibbon Slacklines, which embodies the energetic bodies, energetic minds spirit that so many Colorado companies and employees embrace, is just one of the many reasons healthcare and wellness in Metro Denver became the region's fastest-growing industry in 2011.
According to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation's (Metro Denver EDC) annual Industry Cluster Study, healthcare and wellness grew 9.5 percent in 2011, outpacing the fossil energy subcluster—which experienced the second-highest percentage growth—at 7.1 percent.
"Colorado consistently ranks as the nation's fittest state, with the lowest obesity rate in the nation," said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC. "Our employees care about their health, which means not only do we have higher rates of productivity, but it also means that companies that are improving the health and wellness of Americans are a natural fit in Metro Denver."
Metro Denver's healthcare and wellness industry currently employs 169,150 people in 17,950 companies. This number, however, is expected to grow exponentially with investments and research occurring at the Anschutz Medical Campus; technology and facility investments by HealthONE Corporation, Metro Denver's largest employer across all industries and the largest healthcare provider; as well as the opening of kidney-dialysis giant DaVita's $101 million-headquarters in downtown Denver and its new clinical research center at the St. Anthony Central Campus in Lakewood.
This year, the region will also celebrate the opening of the Colorado Center for Health and Wellness, which will soon be the nation's go-to source for information and programs in the battle to reverse the upward trend of childhood and adult obesity.
"It's possible that in 10 years, Colorado could be called the Silicon Valley of health and wellness," said Dr. James Hill, executive director of the Colorado Center for Health and Wellness. "The bar is high, but we believe the center is going to be an international leader in the fight against obesity and being in this state is integral to our success."
In addition to healthcare and wellness, the Metro Denver EDC's latest analysis of 2011 data shows that employment in seven industry clusters and subclusters grew last year, including its aerospace and clean-technology clusters.
"As the nation continues to work its way out of the national recession, our latest data emphasizes the importance of supporting a diversified industry base," Clark said. "Our eight major industry clusters are strong with top industry leaders such as GE in the cleantech industry, United Launch Alliance in aerospace, and Arrow Electronics in technology, continuing to invest in our region."
To view a full copy of the report, visit the Metro Denver EDC's website at www.metrodenver.org/industries.
Press Contact: Janet Fritz, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation 303.620.8039.
SOURCE Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation