Governor to speak at GJEP meeting

Governor John Hickenlooper
Governor John Hickenlooper

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the upcoming annual meeting of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Hickenlooper is expected to discuss how Western Colorado fits into what’s been a grassroots effort to develop a statewide economic development initiative.

“We’re very excited to have him speak,” said Laura Peters, communications director for GJEP, a private, nonprofit group that promotes job creation in Mesa County through business attraction and expansion.

Since energy development plays an important role in economic development on the Western Slope, Peters expects the industry sector to also figure prominently in Hickenlooper’s address.

The luncheon meeting is set for noon Oct. 30 at Two Rivers Convention Center at 159 Main St. Admission is $45. For reservations or more information, call GJEP at 245-4332.

Hickenlooper launched his economic development initiative in the Grand Valley early in 2011. Economic development plans were drafted in each of the 64 counties in Colorado and subsequently incorporated into 14 regional plans and finally a statewide plan called the Colorado Blueprint.

The state plan focuses on six areas to promote economic development: fostering a more business-friendly environment, retaining existing businesses and helping them grow, improving access to capital, developing a stronger Colorado brand, educating the work force to meet the needs of business and cultivating innovation and technology.

Mesa County was among the first counties in the state to draft an economic development plan based on a series of public meetings to set goals and devise ways in which to achieve those goals.

The local plan includes three major goals: establish Mesa County as an epicenter for energy research, support the growth of existing businesses and develop and promote a community image.

In the meantime, Peters said GJEP has been working more closely with other economic development groups in the region and state to identify and map various assets for development as well as to promote Mesa County when prospects for new and expanding businesses are considered.