Horizon Drive district contributes $300 million to economy, study finds

A business district along Horizon Drive in Grand Junction adds more than $300 million to the local economy a year, according to the results of a new study.

With 277 businesses and a total of more than 2,600 employees, the Horizon Drive Business District adds more than $300 million in direct, indirect and induced economic value to Mesa County.

The Social Science Research Center at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction conducted the study.

Formed in 2004 as a business improvement district, the Horizon Drive Business District is comprised of and represents commercial property owners in an area along Horizon Drive between G and H roads. A seven-member district board appointed by the Grand Junction City Council oversees capital improvements and planning for the area and represents property owners and businesses within the district.

With its proximity to Interstate Highway 70 and the Grand Junction Regional Airport, the Horizon Drive Business District serves as a gateway to Grand Junction. More than 20,000 vehicles travel through the district each day and 200,000 airport passengers pass through the district each year, the study found.

The Horizon Drive Business District includes more than 70 percent of lodging space in Grand Junction and more than 25 percent of office space in the city.

Wages account for a large portion of the economic effects of the district, the study found, and total nearly $107 million a year. Annual wages in the district average almost $41,000.

Taxable retail sales generate anotherĀ  $60 million in economic effects each year.

The study found that 50 percent of firms in the district reported increased sales in their primary markets, while another 30 percent reported stable sales. Among retail, tourism and service companies, 27 percent reported increased sales and 55 percent reported stable sales. While those proportions are down from levels reported in a 2009 survey, they still indicate that most firms report increasing or stable sales.

The study found that 30 percent of companies in the district cited location as a strength, including proximity to the highway and public lands in the region as well as convenient access for customers and suppliers. Another 20 percent of companies cited quality of life as an important attribute.

A majority of firms surveyed for the study said the overall appearance of the Horizon Drive Business District has the greatest effect on business there.

Improved traffic flow and increased small business activity could benefit the district, the firms said, as could improvements in pedestrian and bicycle safety.