Long-awaited West Slope economic summit set

Governor John Hickenlooper
Governor John Hickenlooper
Bonnie Petersen
Bonnie Petersen

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A long-awaited meeting with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to talk face-to-face about ways to improve the economy in Western Colorado finally has been scheduled.

“We are very pleased that the governor is coming over,” said Bonnie Petersen, executive director of Club 20 based in Grand Junction. The group of businesses, governments and individuals in the region worked with area state legislators to arrange the meeting.

State Rep. Ray Scott, a Republican from Grand Junction, wrote a letter to Hickenlooper in December inviting him to meet with regional representatives to discuss the economy. 

The event is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. June 30 at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs.

In addition to the governor, Petersen asked other state officials to attend, including Ken Lund, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Reeves Brown, a former Club 20 director who now serves as executive director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs,   also is expected to participate.

Petersen said she expects a number of issues related to the Western Slope economy to come up at the meeting, including agritourism, broadband Internet access, energy development, timber harvests and the potential for locating business and government satellite offices in the region.

The management of public lands for multiple uses remains a key factor in the Western Colorado economy, effecting everything from agricultural and energy production to tourism, she said.

It’s important, Petersen said, that Gov. Hickenlooper participate personally in a discussion about the regional economy. “It’s important to people in Western Colorado that they know their governor has heard what the concerns are for them,” she said.

A two-hour meeting with the governor also affords a significant opportunity to those on the Western Slope, Petersen added. “I really hope we can generate a closer working relationship in terms of addressing economic issues in Western Colorado.”