Founded in 1871, Colorado Springs, Colorado's second-largest city, has evolved from a quaint Victorian spa resort to a sophisticated city with a charming "small town" ambiance. The Colorado Springs Metropolitan Area (CSMA), encompassing El Paso County and Teller County, has a population of nearly 650,000 and has experienced incredible growth over the last two decades. With over 50 attractions, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region are the gateway to Southern Colorado's "Outdoor Adventure Play Land." Located 1 1/2 hours east of world-class skiing, Colorado Springs is a vacation mecca, drawing over 6 million visitors annually. The natural physical beauty of the area, situated at the base of Pikes Peak and with an uninterrupted view of the Front Range, offers residents spectacular scenery. This scenery inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write the poem "America the Beautiful" after her visit. Colorado Springs features a mild climate, boasting an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. With over 150,000 acres (230 square miles) of open space, El Paso County is a year-round sports paradise, offering hunting, fishing, camping, mountain climbing, hiking and much more. Other recreational parks and outdoor attractions include Pikes Peak National Park, Garden of the Gods, United States Air Force Academy, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, the Royal Gorge, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and much more. In 1990, El Paso County had 398,000 people, which translates to a 67 percent increase in population in just 25 years. This is largely due to the city's low cost of living, access to recreational and cultural amenities, strong business climate and local military bases. The city is also home to numerous colleges and universities including Colorado College, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the United States Air Force Academy. Kiplinger's recently rated Colorado Springs as the 5th best city for college graduates. Located south of Denver, Colorado Springs draws thousands of businesses, residents, and tourists from the sprawling city. Colorado Springs is only 80 miles from Denver International Airport (DIA), the 5th busiest airport in the country and one of the busiest in the world. DIA offers well over a dozen flights into Colorado Springs each day, providing easy travel into the city from around the globe. Over the past 15, years a large majority of the residential, retail and commercial development in Colorado Springs has been in the northern part of El Paso County. The significant amount of available land along the North I-25 corridor continues to support growth towards Denver. This expansion has resulted in approximately 10,000 cross commuters daily and allows companies with a large presence in Denver to office in Colorado Springs as well. Such firms include Oracle Corporation, AT&T, United Healthcare, JDS Uniphase, and Zurich Insurance, among others. The proximity to and growth towards Denver makes Colorado Springs a cost effective location for both corporations and employees.
Colorado Springs boasts a highly educated and industrious workforce that has been ranked as one of America's 30 smartest cities, offering employers a diverse, highly educated labor pool. Colorado Springs was recently ranked by Forbes as the #12 best place for business and careers, beating cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston and New York City. There is a labor force of over 3 million people within an hour radius of the city. Colorado Springs consists of nearly 30 Fortune 500 companies and offers an extraordinary quality of life with a cost of living that is 70% of that in coastal communities. The Colorado Springs economy thrives on the military, defense, aerospace, software/ IT, and tourism industries. Colorado Springs features four military bases including: Fort Carson, The US Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base (AFB), Schriever AFB, as well as the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). Colorado Springs is also home to US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) located at Peterson AFB, a major driver of government contract work. Additionally, Colorado Springs is a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) beneficiary city. Fort Carson received thousands of new soldiers and families under this act and has been rapidly expanding, adding over 11,000 full-time soldiers since 2005. The continued growth of Fort Carson is a positive development for the permanent population growth of the area. Fort Carson, as well as the Air Force Academy and NORAD, have helped push annualized growth within the city. The military employs one fifth of the work force in the city while infusing nearly $6 billion into the local economy every year. Colorado Springs is also home to the Combined Services Space Center and the Consolidated Space Operations Center, which are involved in the Strategic Defense Initiative and handled military missions of the Space Shuttle. Nearly every major defense contractor in the US has a presence in Colorado Springs, including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, ITT/Exelis, Honeywell, General Dynamics, L-3, and Raytheon. Another related facility in Colorado Springs is the Space Foundation (global nonprofit). The spectacular climate and central location also make Colorado Springs a choice location for software development, semiconductor manufacturing, data centers, and telecommunications. The high-tech industry is the second highest employer in the city, attracted to the well educated and experienced workforce. Additionally, the telecommunications systems the military has installed to support programs such as the Space Command makes Colorado Springs a very logical choice for call centers and data centers. Colorado Springs was recently rated as the 7th best city in America for data centers by Information Week Magazine. The data security and storage industries also have a strong presence due to the amount of defense and military contractors in the region.
Colorado is consistently one of the top visited states in the country. The tourism industry is one of the largest employers in Colorado Springs, with an average gross income from tourism of nearly $1 billion annually. Major draws to Colorado Springs include Pikes Peak (over 6 million annual visitors), Garden of the Gods (over 2 million annual visitors), and the world-renowned Broadmoor Hotel. Colorado Springs is also home to the US Olympic Committee headquarters, the Olympic Training Center, and over two dozen national governing bodies including USA Hockey, USA Swimming, US Figure Skating Association, USA Boxing, and USA Basketball.