Forum to focus on regional economic development

A regional forum planned for Montrose will focus on the opportunities and challenges for economic development in Mesa County and other counties in Western Colorado

The Economic Development Council of Colorado has scheduled the day-long event for Aug. 18 starting at 10 a.m. at the Bridges Golf Course, 2500 Bridges Drive.

Admission is $35 for EDCC members and $55 for others. To register or obtain more information, call (720) 260-4478 or log on to www.edcconline.org.

The Economic Development Council of Colorado promotes education and training for economic development professionals and advocates for public policies that strengthen the economy.

The forum will focus on Mesa County as well as two regions that together encompass an 11-county area of the Western Slope.

Kelly Flenniken, an area manager for Xcel Energy in Grand Junction who serves as chairwoman of the EDCC board, will begin the forum with an overview of the EDCC and review of the latest legislative session in Colorado.

The forum will continue with economic overviews of Mesa County and the other two regions as well as a look at the top issues and ways the areas have addressed challenges. The presenters will include Kristi Pollard, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Another morning presentation will examine workforce development efforts, including training and recruiting. Josh Hudnall, co-founder and co-director of the LaunchWest CO initiative in Grand Junction, will be among the presenters. Launch West CO was established to bring together software developers, designers and entrepreneurs as well as advocate on issues affecting business startups.

The first afternoon presentation will examine ways to support small manufacturers. The presenters will include a representative from Colorado Mesa University. Another presentation will address ways to attract and grow businesses in rural areas.

A third presentation will focus on commercial air service and its effects on local business climates. The presenters will include Kip Turner, director of the Grand Junction Regional Airport.

The final presentation of the forum will look at the changing landscape of agriculture. The presenters will include Margaret Richardson, owner of Salt Creek Hemp Co., an industrial hemp producer in Colbran.