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How Pueblo played a part in landing NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars
The Pueblo Chieftain

Pueblo aerospace engineers working for United Launch Alliance breathed a collective sigh of relief Feb. 18 when the Perseverance rover landed on Mars.

The reason was simple — they had played a part in helping it arrive safely.

United Launch Alliance operates a propulsion shop and test facility, as well as a fabrication site, at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial area.

John Hochevar, a Pueblo native who is an engineer working for United Launch Alliance, said watching the Perseverance landing was, “a little nerve wracking because it’s worth a lot of money and it’s a big deal too.”

The successful landing Feb. 18 left him feeling “overall relieved, but we have a 100% success rate on our vehicles, so we’ve never failed yet.”


United Launch Alliance constructs rockets in Decatur, Alabama, and Harlingen, Texas, where the Atlas V vehicle that launched Perseverance in 2020 was built.

The Pueblo-based staff, which numbers 40 workers, did some testing to make sure the Atlas V was ready to go, according to Scott Messer, program manager for United Launch Alliance’s NASA Launch Services.

“The most important (thing) to the Mars mission is the ‘prop shop’ testing lab for the Atlas program,” Messer said.

“If we run into an issue with a part of some kind and we need to do some extra testing to make sure we are comfortable with flying the part then Pueblo can do some additional testing for us to make sure everything is good.”

In the case of the Atlas V’s responsibility for getting Perseverance to Mars, Pueblo engineers tested a busing connection.

“The busing connection has a lot of wires running into it and then it spreads those wires out to different points on the vehicle. At one point we had some concerns about the busing connectors we purchased from a supplier and so we asked the prop shop to do some testing at various thermal environments and different levels of vibration,” Messer said.

United Lauch Alliance workes in Pueblo helped create the Atlas V rocket that launched the Mars Perseverance rover vehicle which landed on the red planet last week.

“We had to make sure that when they launched the Mars mission everything was going to be good and was successful —l and it was,” Messer explained.

The company launches, “a lot of really cool space craft for our customers, but without a doubt the Mars missions are the highest profile things that happen. Our vehicles have launched every Mars mission for NASA and nobody else has ever launched a mission,” he said.

Launching rockets to Mars since the 1960s

United Launch Alliance and its heritage vehicles started its Mars launching missions in the 1960s. NASA’s Mars 2020 mission with Perseverance was the company’s 20th to the red planet.

“We’ve been through this landing thing several times, but it is always super exciting and just a thrill to be a part of the program. I got notes from the Mars program manager in the days leading up to it detailing how grateful they were that we put them on a good path to get there.

The Perseverance rover lands on Mars Feb. 18, 2021, thanks in part to Pueblo engineers with United Launch Alliance who helped make the Atlas V vehicle that launched it.

“I suspect everyone in the company had their computers turned on and watching as the spacecraft went in through the 7 minutes of terror (the final descent through Mars’ atmosphere) and everything worked out good,” Messer said.

Pueblo staff also work on Delta IV rockets. Those rockets have proven heavy-lift capability for delivering high-priority U.S. Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA payloads to orbit.

That entails final work on “very large 5-meter fairings, some of the largest fairings we have, that are launched on Delta IV vehicle and there’s some work done in one of our facilities in Pueblo, where we get the fairings ready to go for our Delta IV,” Messer said.

Vulcan Centaur launches later this year

Up next is the final development of a Vulcan Centaur vehicle that will replace the Atlas V and Delta IV.

“It will go from two different product lines to a single product line. Right now we are on track to be ready to launch it for the first time in the fourth quarter this year,” Messer said.

Pueblo staff also are working on the Vulcan Centaur. Historically Pueblo workers once built the Delta II which launched many of the early Mars missions starting in November, 1996.

Since then, the production facility moved from Pueblo to Decatur in about 2000, Messer said.

“Being able to do something in the aerospace industry — specifically launch rockets is pretty cool to do in your hometown,” Hochevar said.

For more about the company’s history check out

Chieftain reporter Tracy Harmon covers business and Fremont County news. She can be reached by email at or via Twitter at

One Pueblo Press Release


For immediate release  –  Monday, January 25, 2021 – 11:00 MST

WHO WE ARE – The Pueblo Business Economic Recovery Team (“BERT”) is comprised of the following organizations: The Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, The Latino Chamber of Commerce, Pueblo West Chamber of Commerce, Greenhorn Valley Chamber of Commerce, City of Pueblo, Pueblo County, Pueblo West Metropolitan District, Pueblo Economic Development Corp (PEDCO) Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority, Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center, Pueblo Workforce Center, Southern Colorado Community Lending, Pueblo Downtown Association, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Pueblo Community College, Colorado State University – Pueblo, Pueblo City School District 60, Pueblo County School District 70, Black Hills Energy, Xcel Energy, Pueblo Plex.

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING – BERT spent the last 6 month of 2020 working on a plan that would not only help Pueblo recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but would take Pueblo to an even higher level of economic prosperity had the COVID-19 pandemic not happened. We call this the “One Pueblo” plan.

VISION FOR PUEBLO – “Pueblo County is a dynamic and forward-thinking community of choice within Colorado that offers unparalleled opportunity for economic prosperity to each of its residents.”

GOALS/TEAMS (Last page defines the proposed

Vision Alignment- Continue to facilitate alignment among stakeholders and partners to achieve the One Pueblo shared vision of growth and prosperity.

Talent Pipeline Optimization – Align and optimize regional workforce programming and skill output with targeted industry needs and jobs of the future

Foundational Community Elements – Support the development of community elements and infrastructure that help to empower residents to achieve economic opportunity and achievement.

Targeted Industry Development – Help existing businesses grow and attract new industries, particularly those that are innovative and emerging.

Community Positioning – Position the Pueblo region as an innovative, forward thinking place of choice for both business and talent


3 Pillars of focus to accomplish the 5 goals


Area of Focus: Roles and Responsibilities

• Strategy 1: Share and confirm the developed vision and goals with community members and stakeholders and update them regularly on the progress of the strategic plan.

• Strategy 2: Determine roles of each partner organization in implementation of the economic development strategic plan.

• Strategy 3: Ensure that policies promote and facilitate activities that achieves the shared regional vision for economic sustainability, growth and development.

• Strategy 4: Establish a clear communication protocol for prospects and businesses.


Area of Focus: Partnership Building

• Strategy 1: Strengthen relationships with existing industry base and build relationships with its major suppliers.

• Strategy 2: Maintain and deepen existing partnerships to enhance and cultivate further collaboration.



Area of Focus: Product Readiness

• Strategy 1: Maintain an inventory of all sites and buildings available, working with relevant stakeholders to ensure information is up-to-date.

• Strategy 2: Prioritize sites and buildings based on priority projects and best business case.

• Strategy 3: Understand and develop the product pipeline.

• Strategy 4: Identify and develop key assets needed for targeted industries.


Area of Focus: Talent Readiness

• Strategy 1: Facilitate coordination between the supply and demand sides of talent and determine how to address gaps.

• Strategy 2: Educate students, parents and guidance counselors on the opportunities

available at companies in Pueblo County.

Area of Focus: Community Readiness

• Strategy 1: Support and facilitate placemaking efforts within the communities of Pueblo County.

• Strategy 2: Determine the feasibility of developing new quality of life amenities within Pueblo County.

· Strategy 3: Work with communities and other partners to identify and define current housing stock, as well as determine future housing needs


Area of Focus: Innovation Readiness

• Strategy 1: Identify and define current resources available for start-ups and address any gaps.

• Strategy 2: Cultivate the innovation economy within Pueblo County.



Area of Focus: Advocacy

· Strategy 1: Promote a unified message that communicates the positive economic and community development news in the region.

· Strategy 2: Advocate at a state and national level for the interests of Pueblo County.


Area of Focus: Marketing and Messaging

• Strategy 1: Review all existing marketing tools, including website and print and digital marketing collaterals, and, as needed, revise them to ensure messaging and positioning resonates with Pueblo County’s target audiences.

• Strategy 2: Research, plan and execute relationship marketing strategies with decision makers.

• Strategy 3: Identify companies for recruitment within the recommended target industries.


HOW WILL WE MEASURE SUCCESS – One Pueblo – Economic Development Dashboard

Internal Metrics

Sites identified and prioritized for development

Business retention and expansion interviews/surveys completed

Number of leads from existing businesses

Number of expansion/growth projects worked on with existing businesses

Number of leads from new businesses

Number/percent of leads turned to prospects

Number/percent of prospects turned to projects

Number of site location projects completed

Capital investment

Jobs created and/or retained

External Metrics

Population growth

Jobs growth

Total Working Age Population

Percent of population in labor force

Unemployment rate

Median Household Wages

Wage distribution

Educational attainment

Poverty level

Industry diversity

Growth in targeted industries

indieDwell Colorado Begins Production on July 6

Pueblo, CO

indieDwell, a manufacturer of modular affordable housing begins production at its factory in Pueblo, CO on July 6. This is the company’s second U.S. location. Announced in October 2019, the company completed improvements at its downtown location, on N. Elizabeth Street, at the end of June. Initial staffing levels will be around 100 employees by year-end and growing to nearly 200 as the company adds production lines in early 2021.

Ron Francis, the factory’s General Manager, said “We’re thrilled to be officially starting operations in Pueblo. At maximum capacity we will produce approximately 300,000 square feet of affordable housing annually for the local and regional market while creating well paying jobs, learning a trade and having some fun.” 

Initial projects emerging from the Pueblo factory include a sober living facility for the Southeast Health Group and a project for NeighborWorks Southern Colorado. indieDwell builds partnerships with foundations, non-profits, housing authorities and like minded developers to bring healthy, durable, sustainable, and energy efficient housing to local markets. In Colorado, partnerships with the Colorado Health Foundation, the Colorado Trust, the City of Pueblo, Pueblo Economic Development Corporation, Gary Community Investments, and The Colorado Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, helped bring indieDwell to Pueblo.

With limits on public gatherings, the company plans to host a public welcoming and open house this Fall or such time as local health officials determine it will be safe to do so. 


About indieDwell

indieDwell, a certified B Corporation, manufacturers healthy, durable, energy efficient and sustainable modular houses, with a mission to help solve the affordable housing crisis, while improving the health of the environment and empowering communities. The company operates factories in Idaho and Colorado. Learn more at


Date: Wednesday July 1, 2020

Colorado Contact: Ron Francis, General Manager indieDwell Colorado | 719-248-3735

Idaho Contact: Chris Blanchard, Sales and Marketing Manager, indieDwell Holdings | 208-392-8726

Welcome MissionSide

On Monday, December 9th, 2019, The City of Pueblo and PEDCO Welcomed MissionSide, the newest company to choose Pueblo, Colorado as the place to expand.

MissionSide is a census call center and will operate out of the old Express Scrips Building at Midtown Shopping Center, 1040 West 6th Street.  They have already begun coordinating operation and spent Monday interviewing hundreds of people to fill the more than 500 customer service representative jobs that are available at the Pueblo site.   The staff who fill these temporary positions will begin training in January to assist in the 2020 census.

Jeff Shaw welcomed MissionSide to Pueblo, noting the welcomed sight of hundreds of workers eagerly waiting to be interviewed for a position with the company. “Its fun to walk into a welcoming when you’ve got 500 people in line to get a job.  Good sign for our workforce.”

Jeff noted that the census is very important to the economic work that PEDCO does.  Prospects and site selectors use the census data to determine where to locate.  The data is used to compare industries, communities, business climate and tax dollar allocation.  A lot of grants are also issued based off the census, including for education, transportation, workforce development, public health and business loans.   “So much that we do in the next 10 years is going to depend on the work that will be done by MissionSide.”





Mayor Gradisar, on behalf of the City of Pueblo, welcomed MissionSide, noting how much the building has changed since it was a Sears Warehouse.  He was happy to walk through to see so many Puebloans eager to go to work.







Rod Slyhoff, CEO of the Greater Pueblo of Chamber of Commerce, “Missionside, thank you for being here, you do important work.  We really appreciate your commitment to Pueblo, and we look forward to a long relationship.”







Adam Slagowski, president and CEO, was thankful for the warm welcome from the community.  He was blown away by the number of candidates they had.  He noted that this was the culmination of over the past 4 years of work, including reviewing over 100 facilities.  Pueblo was 1 of the 10 facilities selected.  “We immediately knew we had to have this place.  Our familiarity with the community and the workforce here – It all just came together, it was a match made in heaven. We are just very thankful we found this facility, we are thankful to be in Pueblo, we are thankful for the workforce and we are thankful for your support.”





Staying true to PEDCO tradition, Adam Slagowski, CEO and Mark Cutler CFO were presented with the customary gift of white Stetson cowboy hats.



New Jobs Announcement


Monday , October 24, 2019, – 4:00 p.m. MST


New Jobs in Pueblo!


indieDwell announces it will open a 100,000 sq. ft facility in Pueblo to manufacture affordable housing


PUEBLO – Today indieDwell, a manufacturer of modular affordable housing, announced it selected Pueblo, Colorado for the site of its second factory. The factory at full capacity will employ 200 workers and generate an estimated sixteen million dollars in annual payroll. The company anticipates rolling the first units off the production line in the first quarter of 2020. Eventually, workers at the factory will construct 1,000 modules or between 300 and 1000 affordable homes annually for Coloradoans. Extremely low income individuals and families in Colorado face a deficit of over 110,000 affordable rental units across the state.

indieDwell Executive Chairman Pete Gombert cited the region’s need for affordable housing and a robust local workforce in selecting Pueblo for the factory. “Pueblo like many areas faces significant shortages in affordable housing but the combination of the quality workforce and dedicated local partners made this happen,” said Gombert.

Denver-based Gary Community Investments, which invests in philanthropic solutions for Colorado’s low-income children and their families along with the Colorado Health Foundation introduced indieDwell to the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation. With further assistance from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the partners quickly galvanized a solution for indieDwell’s expansion to Colorado.


indieDwell’s unique model combines “people powered factories” and the manufacture of affordable homes, generating local and regional economic development while helping solve America’s affordable housing crisis. indieDwell pays all employees a living wage, medical, dental and vision benefits.

IndieDwell made the announcement at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, October 27, 2019. Details of the project include:


  • 171 guaranteed new full-time jobs with an Average Annual Salary: $38,248. (Pre-Benefit)
  • $1,636,800 from the City of Pueblo’s half cent fund for economic development (contingent on approval from the Pueblo City Council)
  • $13 Million investment
  • $35 Million annual economic impact to Pueblo


“PEDCO is thrilled to work with Peter and his team at indieDwell, as well as Gary Community Investments, Colorado Health Foundation and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, on this incredible project for Pueblo,” said Jeff Shaw, President and CEO of PEDCO. “Peter his team have been a pleasure to work with and it is evident why indieDwell as enjoyed such incredible support by all the partners in this project.”  We look forward to a long relationship with Peter and his team and thank the citizens of Pueblo for making this possible through their continued support of the half cents sales tax fund.”


“We are excited to welcome indieDwell to the Pueblo community.  Innovative, low cost housing is a very important part of a thriving economy, and indieDwell provides a solution that is both unique and very cost efficient for the homeowner / resident.  indieDwell will provide over 170 great paying jobs to citizens of Pueblo while at the same time becoming a great community partner in further economic development efforts,” said Andrew Trainor, PEDCO Chairman.

About indieDwell


indieDwell, a certified B Corporation, manufacturers healthy, durable, energy efficient and sustainable modular houses, with a mission to help solve the affordable housing crisis, while improving the health of the environment and empowering communities.


About PEDCO:

The Pueblo Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO) is a member supported non-profit organization whose mission is to attract, retain and expand primary jobs. PEDCO works with city, county, state and community organizations to coordinate available resources for economic development.

Hemp in Pueblo

Article from the Colorado Sun summarizes how Pueblo’s location, weather and geographic assets are ideal for growing and processing hemp and PEDCO’s efforts to attract jobs in this industry.

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