Pena Blvd

Panasonic Central to Denver’s “Aerotropolis” Development


Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co., an offshoot of the Japanese tech giant’s North American operations, is coming to the Denver metro area in a big way. An agreement, announced on December 18th, 2014, places Panasonic at the heart of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s vision for the development of the city of Denver and the Denver International Airport (DIA) area.

Hancock’s vision plans to grow the area surrounding DIA into an “aerotropolis” of environmentally-friendly commercial centers. The plan centers on sustainable transit that will link Denver’s Union Station to DIA with a high-speed train. Economic development has been under way along the transit route, including apartment complexes, retail and office spaces, and hotels.

Panasonic Enterprise Solutions will open a technology center and business solutions hub along the route at the Peña Boulevard Station. The facility will create between 300 to 400 jobs and is estimated to have an annual economic impact of $82 million for the Denver area. Hancock is heralding Panasonic’s decision as possibly "the biggest economic win for the region in years."

In luring Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, Denver beat out 22 other cities also vying for their selection. The collaborative nature of the development project was a major selling point, along with an environmentally-sustainable model. The Denver facility will focus on large-scale solar power installations and have a battery storage and testing facility. This represents another in a growing line of investments by Japanese companies in the US where green energy and environmental sustainability are key features.

Beyond operating its own facility, Panasonic Enterprise Solutions is looking to be an active player in the eco-friendly development by working with local developers to create a sustainable “smart town” around the Peña Boulevard Station. By integrating residential development into the commercial center, it hopes to mimic the smart town engineered by its parent company, Panasonic Corp., which converted old factory grounds in Fujisawa, Japan, into a 4,000 person sustainable-housing community.

Both the company’s facility and the transit line are expected to open in mid-2016.

Chad Westra is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and an undergraduate student at Calvin College.