Longmont has had a net loss of 39 primary jobs through the end of the first quarter, according to the Longmont Area Economic Council's quarterly report released Monday.
Six companies closed or moved their operations out of Longmont during the quarter and another 10 cut back on jobs, resulting in the loss of 169 jobs. Another 10 companies added employees, resulting in 130 new jobs.
John Cody, president and CEO of the LAEC, told his board at its monthly meeting that he sees the drop in jobs as a blip, not a trend. This year was different than the first quarter of the past couple years, he said, when there were more new jobs added. He said he thought that was primarily due to more new companies locating in Longmont in the first three months of past years, something that didn't happen this year.
Cody said generally, the companies he's talked to this year have been positive things about how their businesses are going.
"Most of the folks I talk to say business is robust, and they're getting to the point where they're going to start hiring," Cody said.
He also noted that national trends such as consumer confidence, the Purchasing Managers Index and — especially in Boulder County — the unemployment rate have all remained positive.
"All of the indicators that we pay attention to are up," Cody said.
The economic council said it dealt with 10 prospects in the quarter, meaning contacts that have expressed an interest to expand in or move operations to Longmont. That's down from the 21 in the first quarter of 2012, but Cody noted that several of them are large prospects.
The prospects, which sometimes come from commercial real estate brokers and sometimes from the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., are unnamed, but the LAEC does distribute a prospect report to its board members. According to the most recent report among the prospects the LAEC is in contact with is an advanced technology company looking at a property in Longmont to locate 450 employees; another looking for 80 to 100 acres of land zoned industrial; and a third that's an advanced technology company looking for office space to relocate its corporate headquarters.
"They are large enough that one would make a large difference," Cody said.
The commercial vacancy rate in the Longmont area stands at 18.5 percent. Most of the commercial space in Longmont is so-called "flex space," meaning it's not considered pure office or pure industrial.
That 18.5 percent vacancy rate is down from the 19 percent rate of March 31, 2012.
What that figure does not include is the 461,000-square-foot former Maxtor building, which is owned by a New York-based investment group. That's not included in the 18.5 percent rate because, even though it's empty, the lease is still being paid on that building by Seagate — which bought out Maxtor — and will be until 2018.
When that building is factored in, the commercial vacancy rate jumps to nearly 24 percent.