The unemployment rate in Castle Rock fell to 3.3 percent by the end of 2014, according to new numbers released by the Economic Development Council. The job growth is just one of several indicators signaling the economic health of the town.
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In 2013, the unemployment rate for the year came in at 5.4 percent.
“We have a very low unemployment rate, which is going to put a lot of pressure on wages. That means as we see the unemployment rate (drop), competition for good employees is going to get harder and harder and put pressure on wages, moving wages up,” Economic Development Council president Frank Gray said. “Depending who you are and how you look at things, that could be a really good thing for Castle Rock as well.”
Sales-tax revenues are up 6.9 percent. Downtown has had an exceptionally good year, with a 13 percent increase in tax revenues.
The town added 173 new primary jobs (non-retail) and saw the biggest portion of that growth in manufacturing. In the retail space, 139 new jobs were added in 2014.
Commercial development in Castle Rock was strong in 2014, with major projects like the ACME Water Tower Center, Caprice Commerce Center and Meadows Town Center coming online.
“We're seeing a 92 percent lease rate as we're bringing those buildings to market, which is exceptional,” Gray said. “So basically, you build a building and it's going to be full.”
Residential building permits are down from 2013, accounting for only six of the 162 total development prospects for the year.
“Even though that arrow is red, it still puts us in the top five communities for growth,” Gray said. “That's something that's still a very good number, even though we see a slight decline in the number of residential permits.”
Finding the space for growth will be a major challenge in the coming years. By the end of 2014, vacancy rates for office spaces have fallen to 5 percent.
“Right now, space is at a premium in Castle Rock,” Gray said. “Consequently, we have issues with existing employers expanding, trying to find new space as well as new companies wanting to come in and wanting to find space.”
Gray said investing in infrastructure that will lead to more development, like new roads and access to major highways, will be the key to creating the needed space.
“We appreciate what council has done investing in infrastructure because, really, that's one of the key pieces as we move forward," he said. "As we invest in infrastructure, it allows more shovel-ready sites to come into play and allow us to have that space for our businesses to grow.
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