Denver's elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level provides it with the nickname of the Mile-High City.
The Denver-Aurora-Broomfield metro consists of Broomfield, Arapahoe, Denver, Adams, Douglas and Jefferson counties. Denver, which is both a county and a city, is the largest of each, with more than 636,000 residents. While the entire metro is expected to post an average population gain of 1.3 percent annually over the next five years, the fastest growth will occur in Broomfield County
Denver's economy is expanding once again, with an average annual gross metro product of more than 2.4 percent expected over the next two years. Retail sales rose an estimated 8.6 percent last year, although growth is expected to slow to 3.6 percent this year. The area benefits from its position as a regional business and government hub. The state capitol is located in Denver, and the metro is home to nine Fortune 500 firms.
Key growth sectors of the Denver economy include aerospace, energy, telecommunications, financial services, computer hardware manufacturing and software development. There are more than 300 aerospace companies and suppliers in the metro.
Denver also attracts alternative energy companies such as Ascent Solar Technologies and Vestas Wind Systems, both of which have local headquarters. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, the Department of Energy's laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, helps attract energy-related businesses.
Defense-related manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon also have significant operations in the metro. Supporting these sectors is a highly educated work force and a base of companies that serve as a magnet for startups, as Denver is often recognized as fertile ground for entrepreneurs.
Most of the Denver MSA is situated east of the mountains. The Rocky Mountains act as a formidable barrier, protecting the metro from many strong Pacific winter storms. The eastern and northern reaches of the metro are expected to receive the majority of future development, as land in these areas is relatively flat and affordable.