Gov. Jared Polis visited Avid Product Development in Loveland on Friday to tour its 3D-printing facility and hear from employees how the business has been weathering the pandemic.
Since opening an office in Loveland’s CreatorSpace building in 2016, the company has moved into a suite off Cleveland Avenue, just south of First Street. About 20 people work out of the two-building complex, where director of operations Ryan Billson said they are “blowing out the seams.”
Avid designs and manufactures a variety of products — everything from face shields to infrared laser pistols, which they showed off to Polis, along with a 3D-printed bow tie and beverage koozie made specially for the governor.
Avid’s director of business development, Doug Collins, said he got a call from Loveland’s Small Business Development Center on Wednesday night asking whether they had time to give Polis a tour.
“And I was like, yeah, we’ll figure it out,” Collins said. “It’s exciting.”
Polis joined Billson, Collins and others for a walkthrough of the facility, including the engineering lab and production area (the governor stopped to jerk a thumb at a sticker on one of the firm’s large 3D printers, which said the machine “Made the Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs” — a reference to “Star Wars,” of which Polis is a fan).
The official purpose of Polis’ visits to Loveland and Fort Collins on Friday was to learn about how the pandemic has impacted businesses in Northern Colorado and what help they might want from his office.
“It’s a great success story, and it also recently sold,” Polis said, referring to the company’s purchase in 2020 by Lubrizol, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.
On the topic of his office helping the recovery in Loveland, Polis mentioned that the city would be eligible to receive money to improve its downtown through the $30 million Revitalizing Main Streets grant program being run through the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“The biggest thing is really the main street revitalization projects,” Polis said.
When asked what aid Northern Colorado business owners were looking for in the second year of the pandemic, Polis said workforce development is a top concern, and that tech businesses are looking to hire fresh grads in STEM fields from Aims Community College, Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado.
“I hear from a lot of employers (that) they can’t find the workers they need for their critical jobs,” he said. “We’re working on ways to really incentivize and encourage people to go back to work, because what you have is too many people are sitting on the sidelines because they have the (unemployment insurance) benefits, and we need to make sure that work pays.”
He also said his office is working with the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade to drum up interest domestically and abroad for made-in-Colorado products.
The governor last visited Loveland on March 24, to help launch the Federal Emergency Management Agency vaccination site at The Ranch.