The Pueblo West View

More jobs on horizon

The next three to six months will bring hundreds of new jobs to Pueblo that should help take some of the sting out of the slow recovery from the recession.

Meanwhile, the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. reports its list of prospects is starting to grow again, adding to the optimism that the worst of the downturn may be behind the city.

“The first two quarters were extremely slow but we’ve definitely seen a significant uptick in inquiries,” PEDCo vice president Rich Werner said. “Part of it is local companies looking to expand so we’re excited about that.”

PEDCo will give a fuller report on job prospects during its next quarterly meeting, set for noon Friday at the Pueblo Convention Center.

Last week, the state revised Pueblo County’s nonfarm employment down by 700 jobs to 57,400, erasing many of the gains reported over the prior 12 months.

Meanwhile, the area’s overall jobless rate continues to hover around 10 percent, according to the state’s August employment report released two weeks ago.

New jobs are in the offing.

The Pueblo Chemical Depot weapons destruction plant continues its hiring push and expects to add the 300 jobs by winter.

Currently, about 980 workers needed for final design, testing and eventual operation of the plant are in place, a plant spokeswoman said.

The plant is set to begin full operations in 2015.

“We’ll probably see another big (hiring) push toward November when we bring on munition handlers, laboratory personnel and ordinance technicians,” said Sandy Romero, spokeswoman for plant manager Bechtel.

In south Pueblo, construction has begun on Austria-based pewag’s first U.S. plant. The plant will make tire chains. It is set to open in May and employ about 55.

Vestas recently reaffirmed plans to fully utilize its tower plant by early 2014, adding a many as 600 jobs. Hiring for the first 100 began earlier this summer.

By next spring, a series of public projects are set to get under way: the replacement of the Ilex bridge on Interstate 25, the construction of the new I-25 flyover interchange at Dillon Drive in north Pueblo; and the expansion of the Pueblo Convention Center.

Prospects are less certain for another driver of local jobs: home construction. In July, home starts edged up from near their recession low but in August the number fell back, according to Pueblo Regional Building Data.

ddarrow@chieftain.com

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