Christmas comes early with exceptional outlook for 2020

For several years, Christmas has come early for businesses in Mesa County. And we’re not just talking about holiday shopping and retailers. Rather, an annual report once again forecasts continued growth in the year ahead.

The latest report characterizes the business and economic outlook for Mesa County in 2020 as not only positive, but “exceptionally positive.”

The forecast by Richard Wobbekind at the annual economic outlook event hosted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce was nearly as effusive — at least as effusive as a forecast by the executive director of the research division of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado can get.

That’s not to say everything is merry and bright. As Wobbekind as well as Grand Valley business leaders pointed out, the tight labor market could curtail further growth. So could uncertainty associated with a presidential election year.

But overall, the news remains mostly good.

You can read all about it on this very website. Perhaps you already have. To briefly review, though, the Colorado Business Economic Outlook for 2020, Wobbekind and local business leaders all cited a number of factors. They included increasing employment and higher wages, a more diverse economy, a strong real estate market and the attractive attributes of the Grand Valley.

Since 2014, Mesa County has gained more than 3,300 jobs. Since 2017, the labor force has grown 8,000. The latest monthly unemployment rate was just
three-tenths of a point higher than the lowest level in Mesa County for statistics going back to 1990. While the labor force hasn’t yet returned to its pre-recession peak, personal income has and increases spending power.

With the prospect of low natural gas prices are likely to limit the energy sector, Mesa County benefits from a more diverse economy that also includes hemp production, manufacturing, outdoor recreation and tourism.

Real estate activity remains near levels for 2018, the best year for the Mesa County market in more than a decade. Grand Junction posted the biggest one-year gain in home prices among Colorado cities, which is great for sellers but not so much for buyers. The value of construction continues to increase with growth in nonresidential building.

At the same time, local business leaders said the Grand Valley remains an attractive place to live, work and raise families — the Colorado in which people want to be. The growing migration from the Front Range proves that point.

Every success story also can constitute a cautionary tale, however.

The successful businesses in the Grand Valley could be targeted by other communities for recruitment. Moreover, there’s the risk growth could diminish the very things that make the Grand Valley attractive. Think more traffic, for example. That makes an all-of-the-above approach all the more important. To not only bring in new businesses, but also assist and retain existing businesses. To not only promote economic development, but also make sure infrastructure development keeps pace.

Of course, economic forecasts offer no guarantees what’s expected will become reality. Similarly, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
But a positive outlook  — make that exceptionally positive — also helps in fulfilling prophecy. And nothing breeds success quite like success.

Here’s hoping a 2020 vision of prosperity comes true.