Development plan proceeds with meeting on energy hub

Having helped set goals for economic development in Mesa County, business owners and managers are encouraged to now help decide how best to achieve those goals.

A two-hour meeting is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. June 29 at the Colorado Mesa University College Center ballroom in Grand Junction to discuss ways to establish a hub for energy research and development.

That idea is among three major goals to come out of a planning session in February that have been incorporated into an economic development plan for Mesa County. The county plan in turn has been integrated into regional and state economic development plans under a grass roots initiative by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Additional efforts to support the growth of existing businesses in Mesa County as well as the creation and promotion of a community brand also constitute major goals for economic development.

Kelly Marlin, interim president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, said the concept of an energy research and development hub would involve not only such traditional energy resources as coal, natural gas and uranium, but also such renewable resources as geothermal and solar power.

Developing such a hub likely would  require collaboration involving the university, energy companies and others, Marlin said.

Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said the June 29 meeting will be similar in format to the February session. Participants will be asked to propose and rate various ideas about economic development. Instead of what, though, they’ll be asked how, Schwenke said.

The results of an online survey of business owners and individuals about the proposed energy hub will help guide the discussion, Schwenke added.

A meeting about efforts to support the growth of local businesses is scheduled for July 27, while a third meeting to discuss the creation of a community brand likely will be held in September, she said.

It’s important, Schwenke said, that the community drive economic planning efforts, and that includes business owners and managers. “We really want businesses involved.”