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An Aug. 11 news conference at the state capitol in Denver to announce the 68-acre Redbarre Digital Media & Technology Campus in Parker made headlines around the state, with the promise of bringing 4,000 high-tech jobs and establishing the south metro area as a new player in the film and digital media industries.
Plans are still in the beginning stages, but town and county officials, as well as Gov. John Hickenlooper, expressed hope the 1.9 million-square-foot campus, which will feature production studios and host retail, office and hospitality businesses, will also boost the local and state economy.
Redbarre's CEO and founder is Denver resident Don Levy, and its chief operations officer is Phillip Infelise, who lives in Evergreen.
On Aug. 16, Levy and Infelise sat down with Colorado Community Media to discuss their plans for the campus, their optimal timeline for the project and why they chose to locate in the Compark area.
Incentives are part of any new development. While this project is self-funded through a private investor, what's your strategy for using incentives to grow?
Infelise: One reason we decided to work with Parker is (officials) were suggesting innovative, creative ways to incentivize the project without relying on the state...
Don has always had the idea of taking profits and building a seed fund to incentivize film projects. If we can generate $2 million, in theory, we could then take that $1 million to attract small producers from L.A., New York. We'll use that first incentive to show the broader industry that we're serious.
No permits or site plans have been officially submitted yet. When are you hoping to begin the process?
Infelise: Presuming that we're about to start the master planning processes, we're looking at the first permit beginning of quarter three 2018, so July 1 ... With the construction processes, we're looking at 36 to 42 months to complete construction.
What other goals beyond filmmaking do you have for the facility?
Infelise: I think that lost in the discussion is the tech backbone being created. Think broadband ... We're creating an extremely high-bandwith backbone (that will be used) beyond the feature film industry ... Think medical imaging, social media.
Levy: The goal for the campus is to be able to handle the most demanding media projects... It could be social media, video games, virtual reality, mixed reality, we don't care ... What we're really talking about is being able to handle large file sizes...
Beyond creating jobs at the studios, retail outlets and ancillary businesses, what other opportunities do you hope the campus will provide?
Infelise: On the education side of the equation, we're looking at vocational training for tech-capable individuals, irrespective of if they have a college degree, we're looking at internships with the Parker Performing Arts. School.
Levy: Most people learn on the job. You really don't have an opportunity to hone your skills until you're working behind a world-class director or producer. What better way to have a positive impact than to come across the street and participate in commercials or a virtual reality project?
How did you decide to build the campus in Parker?
Levy: To be quite frank, we didn't choose the area, the area chose us... We did some research and we learned that the town and the county were very pro-business ... There are also a couple of fundamentals ... One is utilities. We're right next door to a 150-megawatt substation, so we'll have access to power on site. Another is fiber access and data center access ... There's also a rich ecosystem of employees in this area.
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