Advocating for the local business community is a strength and core competency for the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. It is also a member expectation with 34% of respondents to the latest general membership survey indicating that they belonged to our organization because they wanted a strong partner to advocate for businesses. It also ranked second (behind economic development) as a priority for the Chamber to focus on in 2021.
Looking back on why businesses rank advocacy so high as a perceived and necessary part of the Chamber’s programming it isn’t hard to see how our efforts have measurable impacts on business profitability.
In 2020 the Chamber partnered with the Mesa County Health Department to create the Five Star program, a certification program for businesses that were meeting and exceeding best practices to keep customers and employees safe during the pandemic. To date over 600 businesses have applied for the certification which allows them to accommodate more customers than would normally be allowed under the state’s COVID restriction levels. For the food and beverage industry in Mesa County it is estimated that the Five Star Program had a positive impact of over $13 million dollars. “In an industry that saw the devastating effects of the pandemic more than most, we are proud of how our advocacy efforts resulted in saved jobs and greater income for these many small businesses,” noted Diane Schwenke, President/CEO of the Chamber.
The Chamber, along with the Mesa County Economic Development First Responders, also advocated for a locally funded small business grant program that now tops $800,000 in available funding for businesses inside the city limits of Grand Junction with less than 25 full time equivalent employees.
Sometimes it is hard to put a number to the value of the Chamber’s voice in crafting legislation or regulations. Sometimes our efforts fail as was the recent case with Proposition 118, the Family Paid Medical Leave ballot measure that could cost employers up to $1.3 billion in 2025.
Aside from large public policy issues and broad programming there is the advocacy that often goes unnoticed by our members but they only affect one or a few businesses. For those businesses however, having the Chamber as a partner is invaluable.
Lisa Mullen, Rocky Mountain Sanitation recently summed up the sentiment of the many businesses when it comes to having a business advocate in your corner with this testimonial; “The Chamber really is a convener and champion for businesses in this county. When our industry had an issue with fee increases at the County, staff organized a meeting for us with county officials and helped facilitate the discussion and the crafting of a solution. We’ve been members for over twenty years and they have always been there for us. We consider our membership invaluable”