Grand Valley no Silicon Valley, but tech sector growing

The Grand Valley might not rival Silicon Valley in terms of the overall economic output of innovative technology companies. But there’s ample anecdotal evidence of a growing tech sector locally involved in work unrivaled anywhere in California — or elsewhere, for that matter.

By evidence, consider if nothing else the increasing number of stories published by the Business Times about Grand Valley businesses using technology, particularly those ventures using technologies in unique and exciting ways.

Stories published in the recent past have reported on the efforts of such enterprises as ProStar Geocorp, a Grand Junction company that combines cloud and mobile technologies with patented processes to create geospatial intelligence software that helps companies and government agencies manage underground infrastructure. A day soon could come when field crews and heavy equipment operators using ProStar technology and  heads-up displays will “see” buried utilities as if they possessed X-ray vision.

AeroScout, Georanger and SynaptixGames in Grand Junction have joined in a project to map the area around a research station in Utah to create training simulations that could one day be used by people working on Mars.

A story in the Jan. 10-23 issue reported on Dragonfly AI, a division of HRL Compliance Solutions that’s applying the technology and techniques developed for aerial imaging to mines and other underground settings. Clearly, the sky’s no longer the limit for the company and what it can do with what it’s trademarked as TunnelVision.

Last, but certainly not least, the cover feature in this very issue details the efforts of Reynolds Polymer Technology in yet another remarkable project. The company has provided 10 acrylic tanks for an experiment under construction in South Dakota to detect the subatomic particles believed to constitute so-called dark matter. Consider the implications. Ten acrylic tanks manufacturing in Grand Junction could help answer one of the most profound questions ever posed: What’s the universe made of.

Reynolds Polymer is hardly new to the Grand Valley or the kind of jaw-dropping projects that defy imagination. Think 50-foot tall cylindrical aquariums and clear acrylic swimming pools that span 10-story buildings. In addition to its aquariums and other water features, though, the company has developed a reputation in the scientific community for meeting exacting specifications in unusual circumstances. Think about assembling the pieces of a large acrylic sphere more than a mile underground, as Reynolds Polymer did at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada.

These incredible stories constitute good news for the Grand Valley now and bode well for the future. Companies using technology and those using technology in new and different ways have increased sales, tapped into new markets and bolstered payrolls. Combine a growing tech sector with the outdoor recreation and quality of life offered in the Grand Valley, and you’ve got the basis for additional economic development and the prospects for high-paying jobs for local college graduates and newcomers. Did we mention the comparatively low cost of housing in a place thankfully free of traffic congestion?

The Grand Valley isn’t yet synonymous with the technology sector, but that could change.