Tokyo, here we come!

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Last week, we got proof that persistence indeed pays off.

More than two decades of efforts to attract a nonstop flight between Denver and Asia culminated with United Airlines’ announcement that it will begin offering flights between our region and Tokyo early next year.

Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, has made numerous trips to Japan since 1986, working with city and state officials, most recently in November when significant progress was made toward securing the flight to the Mile High City.

About 37,000 Coloradans travel to Japan annually, and efforts have focused on both business-related and tourism travels.

“We’re working to fill both the front and back of the plane,” Clark told the Chamber’s Business Altitude in 2008.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said last week the local economic impact of this flight could be as much as $130 million annually.

This flight will join a number of long, nonstop flights from DIA. Currently, Lufthansa offers flights to Frankfurt, British Airways flies to London, and Icelandair offers service between Denver and Reykjavik, a hub that connects to 23 additional cities in Europe. Frontier and United fly to many locations in Mexico and Air Canada flies into two cities in Canada; United serves six others. Volaris, a low-cost Mexican airline, has applied for the authority to fly between Denver and Mexico City. DIA officials say we will know more about start dates and flight frequency once the airline receives approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is expected sometime in June.

These flights matter, and this latest announcement is critical for our future. As economies of countries around the world grow ever more connected, we must do all that we can to make those connections between Denver and the world.

We know that companies need these connections to drive their business. The potential of a nonstop connection to the Pacific Rim was reportedly a key factor in Arrow Electronics’ relocation of its headquarters to Colorado last fall.

While this great news was the highlight of last week, we also celebrated many successes we’ve had in our regional economy at the Metro Denver EDC’s annual meeting. As a matter of fact, Arrow Electronics was the recipient of the Metro Denver EDC’s “Deal of the Year” award. That award recognizes a company that has made the largest economic impact to the region with job creation and capital investment. Arrow is now Colorado’s largest, highest ranking Fortune 500 company at No. 133.

Other award recipients included 16 individuals and groups honored for their efforts to advance our aerospace cluster. Colorado boasts the largest concentration of employees working for private employers in the industry. Kittie Hook, senior vice president of corporate services for Cassidy Turley Fuller Real Estate, was also recognized for her years of volunteerism and service to the organization and five area economic development groups received acknowledgement for their efforts to locate GE Energy’s solar panel manufacturing facility to Aurora.

Congratulations to each of the award winners – you all are making our region stronger each day. To everyone who worked so hard to bring the nonstop Asia flight to Denver – we look forward to supporting you.


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