Key Industries

Long known nationally and internationally as an outdoors paradise and one of the best places to live in the Rocky Mountains, Durango Colorado and La Plata County also have a sustainable economy supported by business development in key industries in the region.  Key sectors that comprise a large share of La Plata County’s exported goods and services include natural resources, food & beverage manufacturing, lifestyle firms, and technology and homebased (or remote) businesses.

Learn more about who our key industries are and why they thrive here.  Some of the reasons for their success may even be reasons for your success here too!  Contact us today to find out more.

The San Juan Basin is one of the oldest and most prolific natural gas fields in the United States. Over time, companies in the San Juan Basin have pioneered new technologies and procedures that have become standard practice around the nation and around the world. The growth of the natural resource industry has allowed La Plata County to have great paying jobs, a diverse workforce, and one of the lowest property tax rates in the state of Colorado.

Recently, La Plata County has seen growth in national and international resource firms. These companies find that the strong industry presence, growing regional airport, local managerial and administrative talent, well-qualified engineers and business students from Fort Lewis College, and fantastic lifestyle makes this an unbeatable small town location for headquarter and specialized operations.

Key Natural Resource Businesses in La Plata County:

Aka Energy– exploration

Allied Pipeline– pipeline refurbishment

British Petroleum– natural gas  extraction

Crossfire Seeding– land restoration

GCC Energy– coal production

Geocosm- reservoir quality risk management

Kinder Morgan CO2- pipeline and CO2 production

Red Cedar– extraction

Red Willow– delivery

Saddlebutte- exploration and investment

Samson Resources- field production

Southern Ute Growth Fund– gas and oil exploration and extraction, and alternative energy investment

United Pipeline- pipeline refurbishment

Zircon Containers– field operations

Since the founding of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the early 1970s, food and beverage manufacturers have found a welcoming home in La Plata County. Food and beverage companies are bolstered by the culinary scene in Durango, as well as a desire of local retailers and residents to sell and purchase products made here. As a result, La Plata County provides an entrepreneurial proving ground for new products.

In addition to friendly local markets, tourism demand regionally and nationally, a skilled sales workforce, and sophisticated distribution networks help local firms easily grow their sales beyond La Plata County. This region has deep expertise and a collaborative environment that new businesses can draw upon to grow and thrive.

Our Food & Beverage companies were recently featured in Small Business Digest.  Read more about them here!

Key Food & Beverage Producers:

Animas Chocolate Company – Chocolate

Chip Peddlar- Potato Chips

Desert Sun– Coffee

Honeyville- Honey, jams, sauces

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory- Chocolate

Solay Superfood- Organic health foods

Ska Brewery– Beer

Tailwind Nutrition- Endurance sport drinks

Zuberfizz- Soda

Zukes Pet Treats– Pet Food

Numerous farms and ranches are now offering local products and diversification opportunities for young agriculturally-minded families, including beef, sheep, dairy, wineries, and even hops growing to support local breweries. Examples include James Ranch and Foxfire Farms.

La Plata County has seen a proliferation of businesses that benefit from the inspiring landscape and regional attractions. These companies integrate the region into their goods and services, develop products that thrive in the competitive and outdoor culture, and come here because of what this region offers for their customers. Even some of our food & beverage manufacturers, such as Zukes and Tailwind, are a result of hiking and running!

Lifestyle & Culture businesses find it easy to attract employees because people who work for them want to live in a place where they can easily get outdoors after work or on the weekends. La Plata County’s advanced internet and wireless capabilities enable these companies to manage staff and operation centers anywhere, while Durango’s national recognition as an outdoors and railroaders’ paradise make it easy for these companies to leverage our regional reputation to their advantage.

Key Lifestyle & Culture Businesses:

Boure- bicycle clothing

Chinook Medical Gear– customized emergency medical kits

Ecosphere Environmental Services– environmental services and analysis

Freenotes Harmony Park– outdoor musical instruments

King Cage- water bottles for bicycles

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy- outdoor therapy programs for youth

Purgatory Resort– winter skiing, summer activities and lodging

San Juan Car Company- narrow gauge model railroads

SoundTraxx and Blackstone– model railroad sound systems and model trains

Verde PR- marketing for outdoor companies

Wishon Golf Technology- customized golf clubs

Other Lifestyle & Culture Businesses Regionally:

Alpaca Rafts (Mancos)- raft manufacturers

Parelli Natural Horsemanship (Pagosa)- horse training

Osprey Packs (Cortez)- backpacks for hiking

Venture Snowboards (Silverton)- skis and snowboards

Voormi (Pagosa)- outdoor clothing

It’s no secret that internet and wireless are allowing more and more employees and businesses to live wherever they want. Like many high quality of life regions, La Plata County has benefited from this trend. Durango and La Plata County have one of the largest shares of homebased workers of any county in the nation, accounting for over 2,300 jobs in the county.  Many of these people are independent contractors or consultants, or work remotely for large corporations like Mozilla, Microsoft, or even occasionally for traditional manufacturing firms.

Pioneering foresight in developing a state-of-the-art internet, a vibrant business support system, flexible office space like DurangoSpace, and a strong and growing regional airport have provided the intellectual and physical infrastructure for homebased workers and technology firms to thrive here.

The region has also long attracted experienced executives who want to continue to invest and grow new firms. This has led to an innovative culture that nourishes and supports start-up businesses through mentoring, networking in organizations like the Durango Tech Group, a wealth of skilled employees thanks to Fort Lewis College, and debt and equity financing for start-up and growing tech businesses. As a result, computer occupations were the fastest growing occupations in La Plata County in the last decade. Homebased remote workers and technology companies alike thrive in La Plata County!

Key Technology Companies:

Airborne Media- i-phone apps and audio systems in public spaces

Datawest- utility billing software

E7 Systems- start-up consultants for technology firms

E-Work- employee and leadership training

Evergreen Education– K-12 online education

GeoCommand- integrated first responder software

Gitprime- software for managing distributed workforce

Idea-Loop– global digital media and marketing

Mercury– point of sale processing systems

Pensmore- billing software for Quickbooks