In July, the Grand Junction Area Chamber partnered with the Mesa County Public Health Department to roll out the Five Star certification as part of the Variance Protection Program. Giving local businesses the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to keeping employees and customers safe while also encouraging residents to shop locally. Businesses receiving the certification could market their commitment to health and safety measures in the midst of the pandemic. The program was voluntary and still is. A few short months ago the significance of the program and how it would actually help businesses stay open as the pandemic continued to surge was never envisioned.
“In hindsight, the 5-Star Program was probably the single most important tool we launched to help businesses stay open and survive in 2020,” noted Chamber CEO Diane Schwenke. “And the close working partnership with the Mesa County Public Health Department is unique and invaluable to the Mesa County community.”
Governor Polis and other state health officials recognized that businesses with the 5-Star certification were undertaking best practices in health and safety and rewarded those businesses with fewer restrictions as Mesa County moved from low risk to high risk on the state’s COVID dial in November. Overall, business applications to become certified have soared to over 400 so far. Schwenke noted, “It is ironic but with the holidays approaching we are back to the original goal of marketing these businesses so individuals feel safe patronizing them.”
The Chamber and the Mesa County Health Department are trying to make it easier for residents to access the ever-growing list of 5-Star businesses. The list is now available front and center on the Mesa County Public Health website and a link to the list can now be found on the Chamber’s website.