| News |

Aurora officials remain optimistic about prospects, despite GE solar plant delay

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Things were looking up for Aurora, Colorado.That's how it seemed earlier this year when we wrote about the suburb's new tourism organization, Visit Aurora. Why? Aurora looked sure to land the state tourism incentives it needed to entice Gaylord Entertainment to build a giant hotel there; the city was poised to host its first world championship anything; and it was still celebrating GE's decision to build a big state-of-the-art solar panel plant in Aurora.

But while the International Powerlifting Federation World Masters Bench Press Championships went off without a hitch in April, the other two coups have fallen flat.

On May 31,Tennessee-based Gaylord announced it was reorganizing and selling the rights to manage its four gigantic hotels to Marriott. As for the proposed 1,500-room hotel and conference center in Aurora, Gaylord said it would "re-examine how the project could be completed with minimal financial commitment by Gaylord during the development phase." While city officials insist the deal is still on, it's far from a sure bet.

And now GE has announced that it's postponing construction of its PrimeStar solar plant for at least a year and a half; according to a source, GE is also laying off Colorado employees of PrimeStar, a local startup that GE bought in 2011. In October, GE had announced it would build a $300 million plant near I-70 and Tower Road starting in January.

Aurora officials are trying to make the best of the news.

Wendy Mitchell, CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council, sent this statement: "GE has announced that it is putting its expansion plans in our market on hold for up to eighteen months. Due to a rapid shift in the solar industry, GE's change in plans is completely understandable. The Aurora Economic Development Council values our relationship with GE and looks forward to our future work together. "

"I think you have to put it into perspective," George Peck, the vice president of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, tells Westword. "I think that down the road, we're still going to see this happen. ... I don't see GE saying, 'We are pulling out of the community.'"

"I don't think it's a big disappointment," says city councilman Brad Pierce. "If you look at the bigger picture of what (the Aurora Economic Development Council) has done and continues to do, this is a blip on the radar screen."

Ken Lund, the executive director of the state Office of Economic Development (who supported giving Gaylord the state Regional Tourism Act incentives), also sent a statement: "Colorado made a long-term commitment to GE and we intend to remain good business partners. Last year, GE created more than 10,000 jobs nationwide and currently holds more than 100 patents in solar technology. While the industry may be changing, GE remains an innovative leader and their continued presence in Colorado and a local workforce of more than 1,200 demonstrates their ongoing commitment to our state. We look forward to future opportunities for renewed growth."

Aurora's been down this road before. Plans for pro baseball teams and NASCAR tracks have fallen short -- and who could forget Science Fiction Land, the much-hyped amusement park that was to be bigger than Disneyland but turned out to be a scam?

So don't worry about Aurora. Denver's eastern neighbor always bounces back.

Sam Levin contributed to the reporting of this post.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Foreclosure of Aurora home dismissed and renewed in same six months."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar!

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.