GJEP survey: Safety, outdoor recreation and education among top priorities

Mike Sneddon

The Grand Valley is envisioned at once as a safe and forward-thinking community and outdoor recreation hub with varied and accessible public lands, according to the initial responses to a survey conducted to gauge what residents believe the area should become.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership conducted the survey as part of efforts by the economic development organization to develop a plan to meet long-term goals. Nearly 500 responses were received.

“We are grateful that so many people took the time to answer our survey and be part of this effort,” said Mike Sneddon, chairman of the GJEP board of directors and president of SG Aerospace & Gas in Grand Junction.

“Our mission at GJEP is to improve the economic vitality of the Grand Valley and the quality of life for its residents,” Sneddon said. “We want to make sure that how we define an economically healthy and happy community aligns with what our community members think.”

GJEP launched the survey at its Western Colorado Economic Summit in September. The organization plans to work with board members and others in the community to set goals and identify programs already underway and additional resources that could be required. GJEP expects to present its plan at the 2022 summit scheduled for April 26.

“It is important to note that our primary focus at GJEP is business recruitment,” Sneddon said. “And while each of the factors identified through this visioning process impacts our success, the advancement of this plan needs to come from the community at large.”

The survey posed two questions.

The first question asked respondents to choose up to five ways to finish the sentence  “I want the Grand Valley to be known for/as … .”

A safe community was the top selection with 36.25 percent of respondents citing that choice.

An outdoor recreation hub ranked second with a 35.85 percent response. A forward-thinking community was third at 34.22 percent; a top-tier K-12 education system at fourth at 31.77 percent; and our public lands, that are varied, beautiful and easily accessible at 30.14 percent.

The second question asked respondents about their priorities for economic development efforts.

The top response, cited by 42.77 percent of those who responded, was the kindergarten through 12th grade education system.

Increasing green spaces, trails and outdoor recreation opportunities ranked second at 35.23 percent, while improving transportation infrastructure was third at 31.77 percent.

Improving broadband connectivity came in fourth at 30.96 percent and supporting climate change policies to maintain or improve air and water quality fifth at 29.12 percent.

The survey also invited participants to write in comments. Many respondents called for support for arts and culture, while others called for efforts to provide affordable housing and livable wages while also addressing homelessness.

For more information about the Grand Junction Economic Partnership survey results and process, visit the website at www.gjep.org/grand-vision.