Phil Castle, The Business Times
Jeffrey Hurd expects to draw upon a lot of his experiences during his upcoming term as chairman of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, including his work as a lawyer. But Hurd brings another perspective to the role: He worked for the chamber for two years running its government affairs program.
In fact, his efforts at the intersection of public policy and business inspired him to become a lawyer, Hurd says.
Now, more than a decade later, Hurd has returned to Grand Junction and resumed his involvement with the chamber. He says he’s anxious to continue to contribute to efforts to promote business and the economy. “There’s an opportunity to give back to the community.”
Hurd says he’s especially excited about the potential for collaborative endeavors to help existing businesses grow and bring new businesses to the Grand Valley. Meanwhile, the chamber will remain an active advocate for businesses on local, state and national levels.
Hurd begins his year-long term in January, succeeding outgoing chairman Matthew Breman. Along with leading the board, Hurd says he plans to ensure the boards of the chamber, Grand Junction Economic Partnership and Business Incubator Center continue to work together to promote economic development.
Hurd says he joined the chamber when he returned to Grand Junction in 2014 to team with Larry Beckner to form the Beckner & Hurd law firm in Grand Junction. Hurd began serving on the chamber board in 2015.
Hurd says he values his chamber membership for the opportunities it affords to network with business owners on professional and personal levels as well as share his concerns and views with elected officials.
He says he values his work on the chamber board for the opportunity it affords for community involvement. “It’s an honor to serve.”
Hurd says his motivation stems in large part from his experiences growing up in Grand Junction. His father, Steve, a psychologist, once ran the Marillac Clinic, which provides medical, dental and behavioral health services to low-income patients in Mesa County.
Jeffrey Hurd graduated from Grand Junction High School in 1997 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Hurd returned to the Grand Valley and from 2002 to 2004 worked for the Grand Area Chamber of Commerce. He oversaw the government affairs program and was involved in advocacy efforts on behalf of the chamber and businesses. “That was a great experience.”
That experience was among the factors that motivated him to become a lawyer, Hurd says. “I thought I could contribute something at the intersection of law and policy.”
Hurd earned a law degree from the University of Denver and worked for a year as a law clerk for Timothy Tymkovich, who now serves as chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. Hurd said the work taught him how to think carefully about the law.
Hurd went on to earn a master of laws degree from Columbia University in New York City. He also went to work as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell, an international law firm headquartered in New York City.
The firm once advised J.P. Morgan on the creation of Edison General Electric and also was involved in the financing of the Panama Canal. Alumni of the firm include John Foster Dulles, former Secretary of State, and his brother, Allen Welsh Dulles, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Hurd says he handled litigation and regulatory work, mostly for large companies with international operations. He says he enjoyed the challenge of working on high-profile cases, but not the 60- and 80-hour work weeks that kept him away from his wife and young children. “There was a cost that came with it.”
Moreover, Hurd says he missed Western Colorado. “Grand Junction just had a pull for me.”
When an opportunity arose to return to the Grand Valley and partner with Larry Beckner, Hurd says he took advantage of that.
Hurd says he still handles litigation and business matters, but what he calls a “mixed practice” also includes estate planning. In addition, Hurd serves as general counsel of the Delta-Montrose Electric Association, a rural electric cooperative that serves 27,000 members in Delta, Gunnison and Montrose counties.
Hurd says another reason he returned to the Grand Valley was the opportunity to become more involved in the community, and his work with the chamber helps fulfill that desire.
The chamber plays an important role in promoting growth and economic opportunity and advocating for its members, Hurd says.
Hurd says he’s especially excited about efforts to promote economic development along with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Business Incubator Center and other collaborators. “There’s an opportunity to really make some positive steps in the right direction for our economy.”
The chamber has taken the lead role in promoting business retention and expansion. The chamber also has been involved in efforts to promote work force development, he says.
Meanwhile, the chamber remains a voice for businesses, Hurd says. While the organization sometimes draws criticism for its involvement in political issues and candidates, he says that work is important.
The chamber board took positions on a number of statewide ballot measures in the general election in November, including a successful effort to defeat a proposal to implement a single-payer health care system in Colorado.
Hurd says the focus could shift in coming elections to local ballot measures and what could be measures to increase the city sales tax to fund a new events center and raise the city lodging tax to bolster tourism marketing.
Hurd says his life has taken some interesting turns that’s brought him back to his involvement in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. “You never know where life is going to take you.”
But Hurd says he hopes the journey leads to even bigger and better things and the opportunity to serve as a community leader who makes a difference.