December 18, 2014

Panasonic Enterprise Solutions will locate a new technology center and business solutions hub near Denver International Airport, bringing more than 330 jobs to the city, the company announced Thursday.

Denver beat 21 other cities to win the new facility, in part because of the state’s reputation in sustainability and renewable energy, which represents more than half of the company’s business, said Panasonic Enterprise Solutions president Jim Doyle.

“It made it a slam dunk,” he said.

The new facility will be part of Peña Boulevard Station, a 400-acre transit-oriented development at East 61st Avenue and Peña Boulevard, where a commuter rail line is expected to open in 2016.

Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport. (Denver Post file)

Panasonic’s project is expected to be completed in summer 2016.

The location will house Panasonic’s Eco Solutions line, which installs large-scale solar systems and includes a battery storage and testing facility.

The company’s rapidly growing audio-visual solutions business, best known for the large video screens and scoreboards at sporting and entertainment venues, also will be based here.

The company was formed in April to bring together various Panasonic business service units under one umbrella and currently employs about 100 people, Doyle said.

That means many of the expected jobs, which are concentrated in professional services and manufacturing, could end up as local hires.

“We will need a lot of engineers,” Doyle said.

This month, Panasonic received approval from the Colorado Economic Development Commission for a $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Strategic Fund in return for creating 330 jobs paying an average annual wage of $89,554.

On Nov. 24, the Denver City Council agreed to shift $1.35 million from its general contingency fund to its business incentives fund so it could match what the state provided.

Mayor Michael Hancock called the location announcement a “first win” for the city’s aerotropolis project and said it was “the catalytic opportunity we have been waiting for.”

“(Panasonic) also agreed to help us with some of the other major international partners that we’re pursuing for that area,” Hancock said. “It is a real ‘get’ for the region.”

The company is expected to bring an economic impact of $82 million a year. But Gov. John Hickenlooper said landing a cutting-edge division of a Global Fortune 500 company offers much larger benefits.

“We don’t get that many businesses that redefine our brand and image to the world,” he said.

Panasonic Enterprise Solutions also said it will work with developer L.C. Fulenwider and nearby landowners to create a sustainable “Smart Town” modeled on one it recently opened in Fujisawa, Japan.

In Fujisawa, Panasonic took ground occupied by an old factory and converted it onto an ecologically friendly and sustainable community capable of housing 4,000 people.

By pushing to integrate residential development into Peña Boulevard Station, Panasonic will address an emerging criticism that economic development officials have recruited jobs without addressing where those new workers will live, contributing to a surge in home prices and rents.

Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co. is a division of Panasonic Corp. of North America, which is based in Newark, N.J., and a subsidiary of Panasonic Corp., based in Osaka, Japan.