The Town of Windsor, Colorado is a community that is increasingly becoming known for its business-friendly environment and its outstanding quality of life. The town’s leadership is ensuring that the rapidly developing town maintains its unique sense of community despite its growth.
Windsor, Colorado is located where the plains meet the mountains, where opportunity is plentiful and where growth is designed to benefit the community as a whole.
The town is rich in history and shows great potential for the future. This was traditionally an agricultural community since its incorporation in 1890, and the area was defined by its natural surroundings. Many people were drawn to Windsor Lake, which provided leisure, irrigation and ice for neighboring markets.
The railroad system also played a role in Windsor’s development. The railroad brought both farmers and investors to the area, and as a result, the town established its first commercial enterprises to support the growing population. One commodity that had a major impact on the community and its growth was the sugar beet.
“The Great Western Sugar Company was the first big industry that Windsor had. In the late-1960s, early 1970s, Kodak sparked a building boom and an influx of residents,” explained Director of Planning Scott Ballstadt.
The success of the sugar beet industry in Windsor led to the town’s initial commercial and residential expansion. Much of the residential growth was sparked by Eastern European and Russian immigrants who arrived to tend the sugar beet operations.
The sugar beet effectively replaced wheat as the cash crop of the area, becoming a major economic driver from 1905 to 1966, when the Great Western Sugar Company made the decision to shutter its operations. When the economy shifted away from sugar beets, Kodak became the single largest employer in Northern Colorado. By 1980, Kodak’s Colorado division employed 3,000 people. Eventually, Kodak’s successful run came to an end, and it was forced to downsize.
Given Windsor’s dependence on Kodak as its primary employer, this could have been a debilitating blow to the community. Thankfully, the arrival of other companies such as Hexcel, Owens-Illinois, Cargill Steel and Vestas helped to mitigate the shock and insulate the community from effects of the job loss.
“From our standpoint, we don’t want to be a one-horse town anymore,” shared Director of Economic Development Stacy Johnson. “We don’t want just one industry to depend on. When one large user comes in and then there are mass layoffs, it can really devastate a community.”
Windsor’s economic development depends on welcoming all types of industries to create the desired economic diversity. Since the loss of Kodak, Windsor has seen an increase in green industries such as Vestas’ windmill blade production, as well as ethanol production and recycling operations.
One of Windsor’s greatest assets is its prime location. Positioned in the center of the Loveland/Fort Collins/Greeley triangle in Northern Colorado, Windsor has 22.9 million cars traveling through the area via Interstate 25 each year. Windsor also benefits from its proximity to Fort Collins-Loveland Airport and local rail infrastructure in the Great Western Industrial Park.
In the Heart of the Loveland/ Fort Collins/Greeley triangle, Windsor is a part of the Regional Tourism Act (RTA), which was designed to support regional tourism in Northern Colorado in a unique and collaborative way. Historically, the area had a strong tourism sector and once again local assets and natural assets are being marketed. This unique partnership markets diverse attractions in each of the cities to create a synergistic tourism destination in Northern Colorado.
“When we talk about the Regional Tourism Act, we’re really talking about bringing tourism back to Windsor,” explained Johnson. “Windsor’s project is called PeliGrande. That’s a three-hundred-room resort, hotel and conference center. That amenity will be a driver to continue the destination marketing that we are already working with.”
The Town of Windsor, although it has a population of only 25,000, boasts substantial business infrastructure. “We have nine parks and over a dozen commercial areas that offer different amenities for everything from retail, commercial, limited industrial to heavy industrial,” Johnson explained. “The Great Western Industrial Park has short line rail in it which actually allows you to utilize the BNSF and UP railroads.”
Windsor’s nine shovel-ready parks include the Ptarmigan (105 acres), Fossil Ridge (123 acres), Eagle Crossing (117 acres) and East Point (25 acres) business parks and the Highlands (22 acres), South Gate (150 acres), Great Western (2 300 acres), Diamond Valley (44 acres) and East Pointe/Falcon Point (40 acres) industrial parks.
In addition to infrastructure, Windsor provides incentives and business supports through its economic development department. The department is geared towards continued economic diversification, investment and job growth. Johnson serves as the business ombudsman and works with local businesses as an advocate to help them navigate the development process.
“We have an economic development incentive fund that we utilize to work with companies here to retain or attract new companies,” Johnson noted. “We also partner with regional economic development organizations and the State of Colorado to work with them on prospects when they bring those to town.”
The town has a successful business attraction, retention and expansion program. Windsor works in partnership with the community’s two-year community colleges, higher education and the local school districts on workforce development initiatives to make sure that the local workforce is ready, mobile and able to meet the needs of new and existing businesses.
“Some of the things that we’ve been involved in is manufacturing sector partnerships, health care partnerships and energy sector partnerships,” said Johnson. “Those are all initiatives that came out of the State of Colorado’s Blueprint plan. We created those sector partnerships, led by the private sector and supported by the public sector, to really make sure that we integrate the needs of those sectors.”
“From the planning department’s perspective, we oversee the land use and development review processes, and we put a higher priority on commercial/industrial projects. They get preferred deadline and processing time frames, and we have a fast-tracking process which has improved administrative approval on commercial and industrial projects,” said Ballstadt.
The State of Colorado benefits from per capita, state and local taxes averaging five percent less than the national average. Weld County’s extensive oil and gas activity enables the real estate property taxes that are significantly lower than surrounding areas. This is a strategic advantage for Windsor and another feature of the community that draws business.
The town is developing in accordance with a comprehensive strategic plan. The community’s strategic plan is key to maintaining economic growth. It prioritizes development while working to preserve the town’s unique character and highly-regarded lifestyle.
A great deal of emphasis has been placed on understanding the needs of business and residents in Windsor. The town has created lines of communication to ensure all of the required services and amenities are available. “If you live here or have a business here, we want to make sure you have the services you need while maintaining our unique community environment,” noted Town Manager Kelly Arnold.
Its comprehensive strategic plan is geared towards supporting future growth while keeping the community’s viability and action-oriented character. The Town of Windsor supports twenty-five developed and undeveloped parks, one of which, Boardwalk Park, is home to outdoor attractions including its summer concert series, Oktoberfest and Fourth of July celebrations.
The town enjoys a median household income of $80,978 as well as an affordable cost of living and doing business. The safe, family-friendly community is committed to recreation, leisure and entertainment and offers parks, trail systems and an expanding recreation center. Windsor is home to multiple golf courses including RainDance, its newest addition. RainDance is a part of the PeliGrande Project, which will also include a spa, exceptional dining experiences and much more just down the street from what has been designated as the entertainment corridor of Windsor.
“Our new comprehensive plan identifies the west side of town that is adjacent to the Budweiser Events Center and the Larimer County Fairgrounds as an entertainment district, so we are hoping that the Fairgrounds Avenue Corridor will have that entertainment draw,” said Ballstadt.
Windsor has worked diligently to create a safe community and a vibrant downtown space, as well as offering multiple housing stock options. Its economic vitality offers a quality of life that supports its growing population and tourism base. Arts, culture, recreation and mobility are crucial to supporting local development and have remained a priority in Windsor.
The town’s business-oriented approach and commitment to offering a good quality of life are attractive, and so Windsor is experiencing a great deal of residential development. “Through the end of June, we have issued 317 single family building permits, and that would project out over six hundred permits for this year. I don’t know that it will stay that strong, but we do have some subdivisions coming online, and we’re on pace to shatter our previous high of 451 permits issued in any one year,” explained Ballstadt.
“We’re also on a record pace from a multi-family permit standpoint. We’ve issued eleven, which may not sound like a lot, but it is thirty units, and we expect that to stay strong through to the end of the year.” Windsor also has several industrial projects that are upcoming or have recently been completed.
“People really love Windsor’s small town charm,” he added. “We do have some very highly desirable neighborhoods in town and some very high-quality development which, I think, builds a sense of pride in our community, and that really comes through.”
Last year, Windsor celebrated its 125th year. Though it has had a long, rich history, the town’s story has only just begun. It is well-positioned as a highly-desirable place to locate, invest and visit and shows great promise for the future.
“If you live here, or work here in Windsor, you feel like you are a part of something bigger. You recognize that you are in a small, dynamic community that provides a good quality of life,” Arnold concluded.