- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

WINDSOR, Colo. (AP) - For decades, Windsor was, by all accounts, a Kodak town.

Eastman Kodak Company opened its Colorado division on the edge of Windsor in the late 1960s, where the film giant quickly employed hundreds, then thousands. Today, the company’s scope in the town of 20,000 has nearly faded from view.

Still, its influence lingers. Land donated from Kodak to the town became Eastman Park; Weld County Road 66 became Eastman Park Drive; and places such as Windsor’s library and fire department became recipients of large monetary donations from the company.

Kodak even once helped pay for half of Windsor’s sewer system improvements, contributing to the general infrastructure of the town.

“It was very exciting, especially if you came out here from Rochester, where everything was pretty stoic,” said Bud Miller, who moved his family from the company’s New York headquarters in 1971 and settled in Loveland to work at the Windsor facility. “To come out here and be able to have a fresh start with new facility and more freedom, it was exciting.”

And the company, according to Windsor’s Arts and Heritage Manager Carrie Knight, brought more than just Kodak employees to town.

Kodak’s presence in Windsor really helped the community move forward in the way of entertaining different business opportunities,” Knight said. “Kodak gave our community a great deal of leverage in attracting new businesses to this community.”

At the time of Kodak’s decision to build in Windsor, the town had been struggling after the closure of its main economic driver, the Great Western Sugar Co. After the photo giant’s arrival, however, the town was able to benefit greatly from the international company’s generosity and economic pull.

But, just as fiercely as it had burst onto the scene so many years ago, sales dropped, jobs were slashed and the company’s role in Windsor dwindled to almost nothing until it sold the Colorado facility last April to its largest creditor, Kodak Alaris, which recently announced more job cuts at the site.

It seems that the company once responsible for bolstering a small, floundering Northern Colorado town, in the end, may not be able to save itself.

Kodak basically owned the photography businesses for a long, long time, but they made errors along the way,” said Miller, who worked there for 27 years before retiring in 1991.

Kodak, by 1976, had accounted for 90 percent of film and 85 percent of camera sales in America, according to The Economist. In 1988, it employed more than 145,000 people across the world and reported its highest revenues at almost $16 billion in 1996.

At one point, the Windsor facility alone employed thousands, Kodak spokesman Chris Veronda previously told the Coloradoan.

The rise of digital photography and advances in technology - such as smartphones that double as cameras - ended up posing the ultimate challenge to the once-great photography pioneer, according to The Economist.

The company began emptying out some buildings on the Windsor campus in 2007, cut hundreds of jobs at the facility in 2009, leveled four of its buildings in 2011 and sold off pieces of its land the following year.

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