Grand Junction budget earmarks $19 million for economic development

Greg Caton

Greg Caton

Nearly 11 percent of the proposed 2019 budget for the City of Grand Junction will be devoted to projects, organizations and efforts promoting economic development.

Recommended spending will pay for improvements to Two Rivers Convention Center and work on the Las Colonias business park; support for the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Business Incubator Center and Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce; expanded bus service, college scholarships and other programs. The budget also allocates an expected $1.5 million increase in lodging tax revenues to efforts to promote tourism and commercial air service.

“Strategic, coordinated economic development efforts are critical to help move our community forward, but perhaps even more critical to keep it from losing ground, which has unfortunately been the situation in the past,” said Grand Junction City Manager Greg Caton.

The Grand Junction City Council was scheduled to vote Dec. 5 on adopting the 2019 budget following a second public hearing.

The recommended city budget for 2019 totals $176.9 million. That’s an increase of $11 million, or 6.6 percent, over 2018. Sales tax collections, a major source of revenue for the city, are projected to increase 3 percent. The 2019 budget also includes a projected ending fund balance of $26.9 million, an increase of $8.7 million and 48 percent over the 2018 budget.

The 2019 budget allocates for new city positions — nine in public safety, nine in planning and infrastructure and one in human resources — as well a 3.5 percent employee pay raise.

Broken down by directives in a city strategic plan, the 2019 budget earmarks $73 million to planning and infrastructure, $53 million to public safety and $19 million to diversifying the economic base.

“By city council making economic diversification a priority in the strategic plan, they have acknowledged the importance, and this budget puts significant funding towards that effort,” Caton said. “Each dollar we can devote to economic development, in a myriad of forms, helps strengthen the community and better positions us to improve our economic vitality. This is good strategic budgeting.”

The budget includes $6.9 million for improvements to Two Rivers Convention Center as well as additional funding to complete the second phase of the Las Colonias business park. Bonsai Design — a company that designs, builds and installs adventure courses and zip lines for customers around the world — plans to become the anchor tenant of the business park. RockyMounts, a company that manufactures a variety of racks and locks for bicycles as well as ski and cargo racks, plans to relocate its headquarters from Boulder to the park in the fall of 2019.

Nearly $370,000 is allocated in the 2019 budget to fund efforts with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Business Incubator Center and Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Money also is earmarked for other efforts to diversify the economy including, $515,000 for a new Grand Valley Transit bus route from Horizon Drive and Colorado Mesa University to downtown Grand Junction, $400,000 in college scholarships for local high school students attending CMU and $100,000 toward establishing a foreign trade zone in Mesa County.

Grand Junction lodging taxes will double from 3 percent to 6 percent starting in January thanks to passage of a city ballot measure in November. The increase is expected to generate an additional $1.5 million in revenue annually that will go to Visit Grand Junction, the Grand Junction Regional Air Service Alliance and Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission.

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