Developing dedication: Workforce center director takes on new role with GJEP

Phil Castle, The Business Times

After serving more than five years as director of the Mesa County Workforce Center, Curtis Englehart says he’s eager to begin a new role as executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Curtis Englehart considers work force development and economic development inseparable — one can’t occur without the other. “They really go hand in hand.”

After serving for more than five years as director of the Mesa County Workforce Center, Englehart is scheduled to begin on Aug. 3 his new job as executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

And though Englehart will take on a new role with a different organization, he expects the experiences he’s gained and relationships he’s developed to cross over. Moreover, he says his ultimate objective remains the same. “I’m really invested in Mesa County and seeing Mesa County succeed.”

Englehart says he’ll continue his work, only in a different way. “That role has a lot of potential to bring opportunity to Mesa County. That’s exciting to me.”

Karen Troester, chairwoman of the GJEP board of directors, says she’s excited, too. “We couldn’t have a better person leading us forward.”

Troester says Englehart brings to the position business, communications and leadership skills along with his experience as a partner in economic development efforts in Mesa County as well as Colorado. “He’s well-known, well-liked and, most importantly, well-respected in the state.”

Englehart will succeed Robin Brown, who resigned nearly a year ago to become chief executive officer of the Colorado Mesa University Foundation and vice president of development at CMU. Steve Jozefczyk served as interim director at GJEP.

Englehart says Jill Calvert and Barb Golden, executive director and deputy director of the Mesa County Department of Human Services, respectively, will oversee operations at the Mesa County Workforce Center until a new director is hired.

Englehart has worked in that position since December 2016 and for a year before that as manager of the workforce center. He previously worked as a project manager and business development representative.

Before joining the workforce center in 2013, he worked as a relocation consultant and operations manager with Mesa Moving and capital projects and events specialist with the City of Grand Junction.

He earned degrees at Colorado Mesa University and Trinidad State College, where he also played baseball and served as team captain.

Englehart says he wasn’t looking for a new job, but the role of executive director of GJEP and the mission of that organization matches his interests in helping businesses create more jobs and further diversifying the local economy.

He says he’ll bring to the position a collaborative leadership style in which he’ll seek out the involvement of the staff in making decisions.

He expects the transition to his latest role to be an easier one because of his experiences in working with GJEP and others involved with economic development. 

Having grown up and worked for his entire career in Western Colorado, he’s also familiar with the region. “I know Mesa County, I believe in Mesa County and I’m fully invested in Mesa County.”

The county is well positioned to not only continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but also experience additional growth, Englehart says.

The area offers a skilled work force, business-friendly environment and strong university in CMU. That’s not to mention a quality of life that includes a range of outdoor recreational opportunities, he says. “It’s a big playground.”

GJEP can take a more proactive role, he says, in bringing businesses and jobs to the area as well as helping existing businesses expand their operations. That means not only responding to businesses considering relocating or expanding operations, but also seeking them out.

Troester says proactive recruitment also constitutes a priority for the GJEP board, and Englehart will contribute his experiences and connections to leading those efforts. “I feel like we can really see some good things happen this year.”

Englehart says he’s looking forward to continuing his efforts to promote work force and economic development. He says he’s grateful to the GJEP board for its support and trust in his abilities to do that. “It’s a great organization, and I’m very thankful.”