GJEP board supports city projects and tax hike

The board that oversees an economic development organization in Grand Junction supports a plan to construct a downtown events center and renovate the nearby convention center.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership board of directors voted to support the City of Grand Junction in its efforts to build the center, including a ballot measure asking voters permission to increase city sales taxes to fund the project.

Barbara Traylor Smith, a member of the Grand Junction City Council who also sits on the GJEP board abstained, as did Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese.

“The GJEP board applauds the city leadership for moving forward with a visionary idea to strengthen the local economy and further secure Grand Junction as the regional hub for sports, entertainment and commerce on the Western Slope,” said Tim Fry, chairman of the GJEP  board.

“The events center offers enormous possibilities from an economic development perspective by adding over 200 direct jobs and greatly strengthening our tourism industry,” Fry said. “Our board knows that our community needs to invest in a number of areas to strengthen our community, and our hope is that this project can be one of several investments over the next few years that sets the Grand Valley up for long-term economic stability and success.”

The GJEP board noted that by one estimate, the events center would to draw 80,000 new visitors to Grand Junction a year while adding $30 million in retail sales revenue.

The Grand Junction City Council voted to place a question on the April 4 municipal election ballot asking voters to approve a quarter-percent increase in city sales tax.

If approved, the city sales tax rate would increase from 2.75 percent to 3 percent in July. The increase is expected to generate about $4 million annually, although the exact amount would vary with retail sales activity.

The increase in sales tax revenue would be used to repay no more than $65 million in financing to construct an events center and renovate Two Rivers Convention Center as well cover operating costs for the facilities.

The proposed events center would be constructed just south of Two Rivers Convention Center and seat more than 5,000 people for sports events, concerts, trade shows and other activities.

Meanwhile, renovations at the convention center would offer more space and an improved experience, including a larger main ballroom, additional meeting rooms and separate corridors for service workers.