So Thanksgiving arrives this month. While this may sound corny, I am thankful to have had the chance to serve as the Chairman of the Chamber Board and for the opportunity to get to know so many of you.

Over the course of the year, I’ve seen this Chamber in action as a catalyst for business development, as a convener for leaders, and as a champion for a stronger community. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the development of CMU20000. The Chamber’s desire to be a catalyst for business growth resulted in this initiative to capitalize on our own Colorado Mesa University. Each year $450 million comes into our community and is spent within our community because of CMU. This impacts every one of our businesses and comprises a vital component of the tax base. CMU20000 proposes adding 5,000 more students and pushing that economic impact upwards by hundreds of millions of dollars.

The initiative exists in large part because we can’t take our university’s recent growth for granted: demographics have changed, and competition in higher education has sharply increased. Someone had to take the bull by the horns (Maverick by the horns?) and start this project. I’m proud to say it was us—the Chamber and its members—launching the initiative.

Hundreds of you were present when we convened a meeting last spring to roll out the CMU20000 concept and engage thought leaders on the vision. Since then many groups have come together, and ideas and suggestions have come from all corners of the community on how to get there. We’ve worked together diligently throughout the summer and fall on high profile projects as well as others that don’t get any publicity but are just as important. We have just begun the collaboration, but the CMU20000 partnerships are already bearing tangible results. There are now 1,000 businesses sporting “We are CMU” stickers on their front doors, with many of them also offering student discounts; other employers are seeking and finding student interns that will help them develop their talent pipelines; still other business leaders are taking an active role in assisting with student recruitment efforts. (Speaking of student recruitment: Did you know that over 7,000 students are accepted by CMU each year, but only about 2,000 actually enroll? One key part of CMU is persuading more of those 5,000 students to see the tremendous value of CMU and our community.)

We have the vision, we have the partnerships, we have the ideas, and I’m confident we also have the stamina to champion this initiative over the finish line in the coming years. But key to all of it is you! Get involved, become a supporter if you haven’t already (go to www.cmu20000.com), and engage. That engagement may take many forms almost immediately. We’re just getting started, but look for even bigger and bolder efforts in the coming months to engage the community, increase visibility, and grow the student population. Go Mavs, and go Mesa County!

Jeffrey S. Hurd, Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe, P.C.

2017 Chairman of the Board: Jeffrey S. Hurd
Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe, P.C.

Click here to download full version of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce November 2017 Newsletter

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