The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to celebrate National Economic Development Week, May 6 – 10, 2024, alongside our regional partners, recognizing the contributions made by economic developers to create a vibrant economy, champion sustainability and resiliency, and build a prosperous future for Mesa County.

In 2016, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) created Economic Development Week to recognize the work that economic development organizations and professionals do in their communities. In just a few years, this celebratory week has become one of the most widely recognized events of its kind, raising awareness of the work in the economic development profession to bring connections between community stakeholders and collaborate in promoting job creation, community investment, infrastructure advancements and an optimistic future in our communities.

Economic development is the foundation of thriving communities. When our local economy is strong, resilient, and diversified, so are the people and businesses that make up the community. This week provides an opportunity for us to recognize the hard work of economic development professionals across the Grand Valley who lead initiatives to create and sustain jobs, advance career pathways, create professional development opportunities, attract and grow business in our communities.

This year’s theme celebrates our Economic Development Heroes. We could not be more thrilled to spotlight the pioneers, innovators and collaborators working with us every day to support business and community development here in our Grand Valley.

“As stewards of our community’s economic vitality, we recognize that intentional economic development is not just a strategy; it’s our compass guiding us towards prosperity. In the Grand Valley, collaboration isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the cornerstone of our success. By working together, we amplify our strengths, seize opportunities, and shape a future that benefits us all.” – Candace Carnahan, President & CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce

We at the Grand Junction Chamber wholeheartedly recognize that economic development is a collective effort, made possible through strategic partnerships and regional coordination, where each of us has a vital part to play. We recognize the invaluable contributions of our esteemed partners and stakeholders who play an integral role in driving economic development in the Grand Valley. From government agencies and educational institutions to non-profit organizations and industry leaders, our collaborative network fuels innovation, fosters collaboration, and creates opportunities for growth. Together, we leverage our collective resources, expertise, and networks to address challenges, seize opportunities, and build an ecosystem where businesses can thrive and communities can prosper. These concerted efforts have resulted in a variety of positive impacts in Mesa County, catalyzing opportunities and crafting solutions that we continue to see unfold and come to fruition.

Retention and Expansion of Our Legacy and Cornerstone Businesses

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s business retention and expansion program continually assesses the existing economic base and the physical, geographical, financial, technological and human resource needs of businesses in the community. By acting as an “early-warning” system, we are able to identify at-risk companies so action can be takento help them overcome economic difficulties that otherwise could lead to layoffs, shutdowns, orrelocation. Crucial economic development initiatives such as these provide hands-on support to protect and strengthen existing cornerstone businesses and industries. Within the last year, the Grand Junction Chamber’s efforts have resulted in over $80 million in local capital investments and the creation of nearly 200 local jobs.

Similar efforts are being made with our partners across the Valley to represent the needs of businesses in their communities. “Economic development is essential for maintaining and improving the quality of life in our communities,” states the Palisade Chamber of Commerce. “We have been working to understand the needs of our growers, engaging in the development of our future workforce, and facilitating strategic planning for downtown business development.”

Bringing New Opportunities through Business Attraction and Diversification of Jobs

The Western Colorado Economic Summit, held last month by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, showcased the diverse collection of active community and business leaders who are working toward common goals for the betterment of the region, as well as the pivotal efforts led by GJEP to bring new business to our community. Notably, several recent announcements of businesses being attracted to the competitive climate of Mesa County include Goose Gear, Costco, and most recently Amazon.

Curtis Englehart, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, noted, “At GJEP, we firmly believe that economic development thrives on teamwork. It requires seamless collaboration and open communication to unite towards common objectives for the betterment of our community. We are grateful for the robust network of economic development partners who share a similar belief in teamwork and collaboration. It is through these enduring partnerships that we’ve witnessed significant strides in the success of Mesa County in recent years.”

Closing the Skills Gap for Employers, Students and Job Seekers

Along with our partners, the Grand Junction Chamber continues to prioritize workforce development and enhancement in Mesa County. By connecting community stakeholders, education providers and local businesses across industry sectors, we have identified priorities for aligning skill development with the skills employers need. This includes a commitment to direct resources to programs that increase career-readiness, clarify and strengthen work-based learning opportunities, realign career pathways with education and creative incentives to encourage employers to engage in career-connected learning opportunities.

Together with community stakeholders including the Mesa County Workforce Center, Mesa County Valley School District 51, Colorado Mesa University and CMU Tech, we are able to direct intentional resources to employers, students and job seekers in our community. Partnerships such as the WestSlope Works initiative led by the Grand Junction Chamber are exemplary of the community-wide commitment to not only resolve challenges for employers, students and job seekers, but also instill sustainable practices for our future.

Innovative Solutions for Industry Growth and Sustainability

The recent launch of initiatives such as AgriWest and the Circular Economy offices show a commitment to tackle challenges our business community faces knowing that our strong economy will only remain vibrant if we take proactive steps to find innovative solutions. Dalida Bollig, CEO of the Business Incubator Center, shared, “At the Business Incubator Center, we’re proud to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that champions both new startups and established businesses. During Economic Development Week, we celebrate this dynamic network that’s crafting a thriving economic future for our community.” BIC’s leading efforts to support entrepreneurship through the launch and long-term stabilization of start-ups here in Mesa County are another sample of the key roles of economic developers in our community whose work paves the way for economic growth and sustainability in the region.

At the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to all those who share our commitment to shaping a prosperous future for the Grand Valley. Thank you for your contributions to our community. The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to continuing our role as a facilitator of impactful collaborations and a driver of economic prosperity.

We encourage everyone to get involved in celebrating economic development this week and support the important work of economic development heroes in our Valley. Together, we can build a brighter future for ourselves and our community.

360 Grand Avenue | Grand Junction, Colorado | (970) 242-3214
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