Chamber survey: Most members remain on blue band wagon

Most members of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce that responded to a survey say they support a program that encourages participants to buy goods and services from Mesa County businesses.

Sixty percent of the 225 chamber members who responded to the survey viewed the Blue Band Wagon campaign “very favorably,” while another 32 percent viewed it “somewhat favorably.”

Fully 86 percent of the survey respondents said they believe the program will be “very” or “somewhat” effective in stimulating spending in the county.

Free blue wristbands distributed by the chamber, Mesa Mall, Mesa County Public Libraries and local businesses remind wearers to “buy local” and “support the Grand Valley.” Businesses that join the campaign offer discounts or special services to customers wearing the bands.

Twenty-six percent of the respondents to the chamber survey said they’re participating in the program. Of those, 45 percent said they’d offered a discount to customers wearing the bands 10 times or less.

Forty percent of those who responded to the chamber survey said they had visited a local business because they participate in the Blue Band Wagon program.

Unlike other campaigns in the past, the Blue Band program doesn’t ask that participants buy only from businesses owned by Mesa County residents. It asks them to buy from businesses located in Mesa County. Those businesses need not be locally owned — or even belong to the chamber, for that matter.

Moreover, the campaign doesn’t suggest that residents always buy from a Mesa County business.

“What we’ve said all along is, ‘where possible,’” said Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive director of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. “Not 100 percent of the purchasing is done locally.”

The chamber itself took that option in hiring a California-based travel agency to handle a chamber-sponsored trip to Italy.

Local government entities also hire firms from outside the county. Government officials tout the importance of getting the best value for taxpayer dollars.

About 100 chamber members responding to the survey offered suggestions on how to improve the Blue Bang Wagon program, including wider distribution of bands and more media coverage and marketing. One suggestion called for the formation of an actual band to perform a special song at local venues.