Efforts encourage economic development official

Kristi Pollard
Kristi Pollard

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Kristi Pollard believes efforts to create jobs and improve the economy in Mesa County have gained momentum.

The executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership said the group is working to bring new businesses to the area while assisting existing businesses with expansions. A state program offering tax incentives to businesses could create more than 350 jobs within the next five years, Pollard said.

While challenges persist as the area struggles to recover from recession, Pollard said she’s encouraged. “We are seeing a really great bright spot.”

Pollard offered both a review of the past year and a look ahead to the coming year during a report at the Western Colorado Economic Summit in Grand Junction. The  summit expanded on what was an annual meeting for GJEP.

Pollard said GJEP is working with 76 active prospects that have expressed interest in relocating or expanding operations in Mesa County. While the prospects are diverse, health care and outdoor equipment manufacturers are the most represented industry sectors, she said.

GJEP also has worked with 22 local businesses in assisting with expanding operations.

Meanwhile, four businesses have been approved to receive tax incentives through the Rural Jump-Start Program. Mesa County was the first county in Colorado selected to join in the program.

The Rural Jump-Start Program creates zones in which approved businesses are exempted from paying state and local taxes. To participate, the core functions of businesses may not compete with existing operations. Businesses must create a minimum of five net new jobs in the county in which they’re located. Qualifying businesses are exempt from paying state income, use and sales taxes as well as county and municipal personal property taxes. Their employees also are exempt from paying state income taxes.

Colorado Clear, ProStar Geocorp, REBCO Enterprises and TSW Analytics have been approved for the program. Colorado Clear has developed a plastic container that’s both recyclable and biodegradable. The Palisade company also bottles water in the containers. ProStar Geocorp in Grand Junction has developed computer software to help pipeline and utility companies locate and manage infrastructure. REBCO Enterprises, a company that makes self-contained, soiless growing systems, has relocated its operations from California to the Grand Valley. Australian-based TSW Analytics, a leader in forensics investigation and technology development, opened its first North American operation in Mesa County.

Pollard said she expects four more businesses to gain approval through the program by the end of June and the eight businesses will collectively create more than 350 jobs over the next five years.