A major company that owns outdoor brands such as The North Face and Timberland is moving its global headquarters to Denver.
VF Corporation will be the latest Fortune 250 company to move its operations to the state. Around 800 employees are expected to relocate from North Carolina to Denver starting in 2019. CEO Steve Rendle cited Denver's outdoor culture and thriving business environment as reasons for the move.
One VF company is already in Colorado. Smartwool will move 70 jobs from Steamboat Springs to Denver. The loss is upsetting to community leaders.
"They did a lot of community good, so I would say I'm very sad," Steamboat Springs councilwoman Kathi Meyer said. "Clearly any loss of jobs is sad, they were very socially conscience."
The Colorado Economic Development Commission recently approved $27 million in state income tax credits to entice companies to move to the state.
“We are grateful to Colorado for the job growth tax credits that represent a long-term commitment to our company and we want to make a long-term commitment to the people of Colorado,” Rendle said.
The company plans to match the amount of Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit money it uses in a donation to the VF Foundation. Those funds will be used to “support the charitable interests of the citizens of Colorado,” Rendle said.
Sam Bailey, the vice president of Economic Development for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, wanted to downplay the importance of the $20 million in incentives for drawing VF.
"The fact that incentives make a headline is somewhat unfortunate, because ultimately for a company like this, they're looking at the talent and the industry ecosystem," Bailey said.
Stephanie Copeland, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, said the move shows Colorado is a leader in attracting outdoor companies. The Outdoor Retailer trade show moved from Utah to Colorado this year.
“It is especially heartening that it comes with VF – a company whose brands and culture align with Colorado’s core values,” Copeland said.
In a separate move, the clothing company is breaking off its denim division (Wrangler and Lee jeans), which could generate as much as $2.5 billion in revenue each year. VF Corp. said it wants to focus on its money-making active and outwear business.
The change in what people wear is playing out every quarter at VF. In the most recent quarter, revenue from activewear surged 25 percent and outdoor revenue rose 6 percent. Revenue from denim increased 3 percent.
The outdoor division will move from North Carolina to Denver. The new, yet-to-be-named company that operates the denim and also its outlet businesses will remain in Greensboro, North Carolina.
CPR News reporter Ben Markus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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