A NUMBERS GAME – Is Commerce City Growing or Shrinking??? Or Honey I Shrunk the City???

By Kathy McIntyreEditor

This report starts with the following comments taken from a press release from the city of Commerce City on February 25, 2011. The press release stated “According to data released earlier this week by the U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce City’s population increased from 20,991 residents in 2000 to 45,913 in 2010, making it the state’s fourth fastest-growing city amongst communities with at least 10,000 people. The census numbers give further credence to what we’ve believed anecdotally – that Commerce City is a vibrant, culturally diverse community,” said City Manager Jerry Flannery. “It’s encouraging to know that even with the economy slowing in the past couple of years, Commerce City has continued to develop,” Flannery added.”

We all know that Census data is used in part to determine the state’s congressional district boundaries and determine where transportation funding goes and how the government allocates its services, so these are very important numbers. This is the reason why those of us in the media threw so much support at the recent census. It’s the reason that everyone told everyone everywhere a person went to fill out your census form and get it mailed in. It’s the reason the government sends someone out to your house if you don’t mail the form back in. So it’s important, really, really important. But population numbers are also used by investors, retail, commercial and residential builders. It is used to plan for schools, libraries, small businesses. It is used to attract growth.

The February 25, 2011 press release is not the first data that the city of Commerce City has published. So I thought it prudent to compare with some other numbers that have been put out by the city during the last few years.

In a 2005 Commerce City Economic Development piece the population was stated at 34,000 residents.

According to a city publication (copyright 2007) the population of Commerce City was 43,401 as of December 2005. On this same publication it shows a graph depicting the population right at 45,000 in 2006.

Then in 2006, Corona Research was paid $77,500 by the city and they said the population was 36,049.

Moving to the city’s website (as of March 19, 2011) the population there is stated at 42,473 as of 2008 with the source stated as being the U.S. Census Bureau. AngelouEconomics was paid $80,000 for its study and it reports a population of 42,473 in 2008.

In 2009, The Retail Coach was paid $60,000 by the city and the population they reported was 54,000 in 2009 and this number was used by the city in an article in the Colorado Real Estate Journal and the infamous Commerce City "LEAKAGE REPORT" where it is stated by the city that over $300 million dollars of retail sales are leaked annually out of Commerce City to neighboring jurisdictions.

In March 2011, the city put out in a citizen newsletter that the population was 48,000.

A grand total of $217,500 of Commerce City taxpayer’s money spent to garner some population numbers to encourage growth. And the numbers go up and down and up and around.

In summary:
2000 - 20,991 (Census Bureau) CLICK HERE
2005 - 43,401 (City of Commerce City) CLICK HERE
2005 - 34,000 (City of Commerce City) CLICK HERE
2006 - 45,000 (City of Commerce City) CLICK HERE or 36,049 (Corona Research) CLICK HERE
2008 - 42,473 (AngelouEconomics) CLICK HERE
2009 - 54,000 (The Retail Coach) CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
2010 - 45,913 (Census Bureau) CLICK HERE
2011 - 48,000 (City of Commerce City) CLICK HERE

So from 2000 to 2005 the population increased 22,410. And from 2005 to 2010 the population increased 2,512 (and there was a forced annexation during this time).

Is this development and growth or just a numbers game?

NUMBERS GAME PART TWO – Are Businesses and Jobs Coming or Going in Commerce City?
By Kathy McIntyre, Editor

The resident population of Commerce City is 45,913 according to the U.S. Census Bureau and that is a fact, but what about the businesses and jobs available in the city.

In 2007 the city of Commerce City published a report entitled “City of Commerce City 10 Largest Primary Employers”. Recently the city updated those same employers for the Gateway News as well as giving us a new updated list of employers.

Below see the numbers from 2007 as well as the new updated 2010 numbers given to the Gateway News from the city.

Fedex Freight East, Inc. Employees in 2007 – 475 and in 2010 – 341: LOSS OF 134

Sara Lee Bakery Group Employees in 2007 – 421 and in 2010 – 149: LOSS OF 272

Tri-County Health Dept. Employees in 2007 – 275 and in 2010 no longer here: LOSS OF 275

Northern Pipeline Construction Employees in 2007 – 300 and in 2010 – 191: LOSS OF 109

Suncor Energy*
*(Purchased Valero Oil and acquired their employees) Employees in 2007 – 282 and in 2010 – 410: NO GAIN OR LOSS as Valero Oil was already located in Commerce City and employees just changed from being Valero Oil employees to Suncor employees

Shamrock Foods Company
(same as United Food Service, Inc.) Employees in 2007 – 588 and in 2010 – 569: LOSS OF 19

United Parcel Service Employees in 2007 – 2,600 and in 2010 – 2,487: LOSS OF 113

Douglass Roofing Company Employees in 2007 – 250 and in 2010 – 288: GAIN OF 38

Beco, Inc. Employees in 2007 – 250 and in 2010 – 184: LOSS OF 66

Brannan Sand and Gravel Employees in 2007 – 350 and in 2010 – 15: LOSS OF 335

The newest list of top 10 employers in Commerce City also includes the following (we do not have numbers from 2007 from any of these as they were not on the city’s top 10 list in 2007).

Fedex Ground Package System Inc. with 767 employees
Waste Management of Colorado Inc. with 272 employees
DPI Specialty Foods Rocky Mountain with 219 employees
Old Dominion Freight Lines with 219 employees
CNF Inc. with 186 employees

(All businesses are established businesses in Commerce City)

In a press release from the city of Commerce City dated February 14, 2011, Commerce City manager Flannery was quoted as saying that the city’s incentive program brought more than 400 jobs to the city over a six-month period. (No details were released from Flannery about the 400 jobs.) Yet when we asked the city for a list of recently closed businesses during the last few months, we were told “No, we do not have a list” (of closed businesses). And according to the data above (all obtained from the city of Commerce City) there have been 1,285 jobs lost since 2007.

Several businesses that have recently closed include the Mercury Car Wash in Belle Creek, Curves at 104th and Chambers Road, Mugsy’s Coffee Shop in Derby, and Checkers Auto in Reunion Village. How many jobs were lost when these businesses closed? This begs the question, if the city is not keeping track of the loss of jobs and businesses closed, how can they say there are any gains? What parameters is the city using to ascertain if the incentive program is working?

2007 Commerce City published report entitled “City of Commerce City 10 Largest Primary EmployersCLICK HERE


Belle Creek Observer said...

Hire a Lobbyist as your CM and you are surprised by this kind of a story?

My opinion, city has a history of being incompetent and now it looks like they are hiring consultants that are incompetent.

Coach Retail being off that much is inexcusable. Money should be given back to the city.

gina, Commerce City said...

So I don't get it, what the hell is the population of Commerce City?

I think we should go with the US census numbers.

I would not trust the consultant numbers at all.

Most concerning is the amount we spent on Consultants! Thought we had 6 figure people in place to do this kinds of "studies" in house.

Pro City 2.0 said...

Gateway News'

$217,500 in consultants is more then just population numbers!

We gained valuable information from these consultants. Commerce City stands behind all hired consultants!

Ryland, North Range Commerce City said...

How did retail coach come up with the number of 54,000? Maybe we lost people in last part 2009?

I know my block in bare lately.

Anonymous said...

$217,500 you cannot be serious, really? What was that money used for? I thought the census did the census for cities at no charge.

Archer said...

I see the graph, we were at 45,000 in 2006! What the Hell?


Anonymous said...

maybe this is why walmart isnt coming

Bruce said...


NOT GROWTH! UN FAIR!!!!!!!!!!!

via email said...

Commerce City is stating that 54,000 as fact not a estimate? False reporting. That leakage piece was given out to who knows how many.

Anonymous said...

FYI - US Census is more detailed and more reliable then any consultant.

Why we paid for consultants is beyond me, but there is is.

Consultant was only off by 9,000.

Curious in Reunion said...

Love the Graph! Funny!

the one graph has us at 70,000 in 2010. That was a little off.

Your right, graph shows us at 45,000 in 2006. I guess the devil in in the details.

Anonymous said...

I think I understand why Wal-Mart decided to put off building in Norther Range.

Anonymous said...

OHHHHH NOOOOO! GN- Gehler is going to be upset, your not Accentuating the positive!!!!!!!!!!!

Kyle said...

maybe walmart got these same numbers and then pulled out?

Ollie said...

Absolutely a great report Gateway News. This is what I want from my MEDIA. Sincerely a BIG Thanks and keep up the good work.

As far as Commerce City, I have a message for you:

Clearly shows info is either wrong or so useless it is not even funny!

This was brought up at the last election with the Commerce City candidates and looks like it will be brought up again!

River Run Resident said...

I am interested in how or what kind of a formula they use to get to these numbers.

54,000 is way off and it was presented as FACT by Commerce City publications. So I take it as we LOST 10,000 people?

Cory, River Run

vikki said...

maybe 54K total residents, 45K legal?

Core Comments said...

Just got a text about this story!
$217,500 in consultants?
So what! that is less then half of jerry's house we gave him! Whatca ya all complaining about?

mmmmmmessed up said...

Love the My census is better then yours graphic.

So we got wildly reported numbers and over paid consultants.

I like the story but like deal breaker better.

love the links to the backup documents.

Keep up the good work.

B. Davis: Reunion said...

My conclusion, city is so desperate for retail growth they fudged the numbers?

So wrong. Lets just be what we are. A city in the rut. Go to Brighton for food, go to Denver for stuff to do. It is what it is.

Anonymous said...

So people will be outraged, council will ignore it and life will go on as usual. Just like the other issues (ie City Manager's house), Council will NOT address.

Anonymous said...

Gateway News - I think someone thought that the Prairie Dog population trends you are reporting are real and now they are opening the pet grooming place. Maybe you should tell them it is a joke, don't really have that many Prairie Dogs.

Anonymous said...

I will bring up the obvious, How does Commerce City know if what they are doing for the incentive in working if they do not keep track of who is leaving?

Irene, CC said...

This is why I hate numbers and studies, you can make them into any kind of a spin you want.

King of Olive Street said...

I had to read this piece 3 times to get it. So confusing. A lot of detail. Getting frustrated because I have so many questions. Would love to post them here are have GN look further into it.

good stuff.

Close to the Situation said...

Hate to say it, but I think the numbers from the coach retail might be right. I do think we were at 54,000 pop. at one time. We can not just dismissed the fact that maybe people just left Commerce City!

Wes, Northern Range said...

If this was just reported as plain text I would have never believed it.
Gateway added the backup and all I have to say is wow!

Sammy in the Newlands said...

So, is it the Commerce City idea to just keep filling the box up from the top with water down tax revenue and not pay attention the the bottom of the box leaking?

Why the city is not keeping a close eye on closing businesses and employee loss is really baffling.

How do you assess if the ED incentive is working or not?

No More Gov. Handouts said...

The Commerce City's little incentive program was cute, but it is now time to get back to business. It looks like it is not working, so lets all grew up and get back to paying taxes like everyone else. This goes for the Water District too. No more gifts to businesses!

Anonymous said...

Just for you information.
The city's incentive program was successful! IT is NOT an exact science to attract business.

I dont know much about the Water District but as far as the city, we are doing just fine!

Concerned in River Run said...

I am so confused! I hear all the time from city that we are doing great. Are we?

Gateway News said...

Recent Q&A with Commerce City...

Gateway News: A few years ago we had to redistrict due to changes in population, do you know by ward what the population for each ward was at that time, after the redistricting? It was in about 2006 or 2007 if I am remembering right.

Commerce City: On August 15, 2005, City Council approved Ordinance 1590 allocating funds for an off-year census. The census work, conducted by Corona Research began January 2006. Ordinance 1654 reset the ward boundaries based on the census data provided. The population between wards after the redrawing were as follows: Ward I = 9,686; Ward II = 9,258; Ward III = 8,910; and Ward IV = 8414 (total: 36,049)

Gateway News: Also with the new population numbers just now released, will Commerce City have to redistrict the wards again now? Would that happen before the 2011 election?

Commerce City: Based on new census data, Commerce City will most likely have to redraw our ward boundaries once again, but that will not occur until 2012, maybe. We have to wait for the legislature to draw up congressional districts first, then it goes to the county level for drawing up the election precincts, which establish senate and house districts. Lastly it comes down to the local level and I have to keep the county’s general election precincts whole.

Gateway News: And last question is do you know how many residents were added to the population of the city when the annexation of the enclave was recently done, I think in 2007 or 2008, the most recent annexation?

Commerce City: The city does not have a total number of residents that were added in the enclave annexation. The total number of properties of the enclave was 178, and of that, only a handful had residences on them (mobile home park, agricultural lots with homes on them). Because the city was annexing large, high-intensity, industrial parks, residential aspects were a small percentage of the overall impact analyzed.

Travis K. Historic Part of Town said...

I am slowly getting this story,

It takes a while to really understand this. The more you look the more questions come up.

If those numbers from Corona were good enough for a re-distracting, then why was the city putting out numbers of 43,401 in Dec. of 2005?

Also, why is city putting out numbers in 2006 of 45,000?

What the hell is going on in city hall?

Anonymous said...

Look at the agenda for the long range financial plan for Monday night and see the popualtion number. Looks like 47,000 on the chart.

Anonymous said...

lying make baby jesus cry

pro city 2.0 said...

Commerce City did not lie about anything! Those population numbers were legitimate estimates from a study. NOT a lie!

Cheryl said...

NYC is disputing the US census numbers. Commerce City should do the same. We have no reason to dispute the coach retail numbers of 54,000. I think US cenesus is off!

Con City One said...

That is all the city council and administration of Commerce City does is lie! They lied about the water park at Pioneer Park, they lied about the Boys and Girls Club, they lied about the city manager paying the taxpayers back for the house in Reunion, they lied about Walmart coming to the north, they lied about development happening around Dick's Sporting Goods Park, they lied about Derby redevelopment - it is not, they lie about the financial health of the city, they lied about opportunities in China and Germany. Yes that is all they do is lie and it does make Jesus cry and that is why it rains. If they could be honest and say, yes we need a new manager we made a huge mistake, yes we will make him pay the taxpayers back right now since no contract ever works with Flannery cause he is above the law, and yes we have lost population and we have lost jobs and we have spent all of your reserve money, and yes we have wasted tax dollars on lots of things we never should have, yes the city is almost broke, everybody would be so happy because then we would all know the truth and we could do something about it then.

David Pocs said...

There are different ways of counting a "Population" depending on the type of user. The official city population are those people living within the city boundaries.

When economic development and retailers count population, they primarily use zip code boundaries. There are many more people within the zip code boundaries coverning commerce city than within the actual boundaries. The zip codes will cover enclave areas, and other unincorporated areas, plus overlap into other communities.

Retailers use zip codes boundaries because it relates to advertising. Retailers and economic development groups also use demographic information providers to help them estimate populations between census'. The further one gets from the previous census, the less acurate the numbers.

Hyde, Commerce City said...

good info Pocs. I only trust the US census numbers.

Anonymous said...


thats fine you can only trust the us gov numbers, but sometimes the city has to do its own census for ward boundaries redistricting. City cant wait for every 10 years to do this.