Phil Castle, The Business Times
Clay Tufly has watched over the course of his life as Grand Junction has grown into what he calls “a community that has a lot more to offer.”
More than an observer, though, Tufly says he’s strived to play various roles in that evolution through his banking career and involvement in various local organizations. Tufly takes on yet another role this year as chairman of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Tufly expects to pursue a number of goals set by the chamber board, among them promoting work force development, helping to retain and expand businesses and advocating for a more favorable business climate through legislative and regulatory processes.
Those efforts contribute to a single, overarching goal Tufly says aligns with his professional and personal aspirations: “Make the community a better place.”
Tufly started his year-long term as chamber chairman at the beginning of the year, succeeding outgoing chairman Jeffrey Hurd.
Tufly says his duties include running meetings, making the most of the abilities board members bring to those meetings and staying on track toward implementing goals.
“I’ll try to lead the group, to keep us all moving toward the same direction.”
Tufly himself brings to the board the perspective of someone who grew up in Grand Junction and has seen first-hand the changes that have occurred over the years.
He also brings to the board nearly 30 years of experience as a manager and executive with Alpine Bank in Western Colorado, nearly five years of that as regional president in Mesa County.
Tufly graduated from Grand Junction High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from what’s now Colorado Mesa University.
Tufly joined Alpine Bank and its management training program right out of college. He subsequently worked as a lender and managed branch locations before becoming president of the Alpine Bank location in downtown Grand Junction. He became regional president in 2013.
With its headquarters in Glenwood Springs and most of its locations in Western Colorado, Alpine Bank has developed a growing operation in the region because of what Tufly says has been from the beginning a corporate culture of community involvement. In doing the right things for the communities the bank serves, business takes care of itself, he says.
By extension, Alpine Bank employees are encouraged to engage in community activities, he says. In addition to the chamber board, Tufly has served on the boards of Club 20 and Hilltop Community Resources and as president of the organization that stages the Grand Junction Air Show.
Tufly says he values his involvement in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce for many reasons, chief among them the opportunity to establish and strengthen relationships with others in what he describes as a tight-knit business community. “I think that’s the most value you can get.”
That’s part of what the chamber does to make business — and the community — better, he says.
The chamber board has set broad goals and plans related activities for the coming year to address other parts, he says.
The chamber will continue to promote work force development, through programs to promote apprenticeships and help connect businesses looking for applicants and employees looking for jobs as well as train middle and high school students to become entrepreneurs. The chamber also will support efforts by Mesa County School District 51 and Colorado Mesa University to encourage more high school students to pursue education and training.
The chamber also will continue to help retain and expand existing businesses. Tufly says economic development involves not only attracting new businesses to the Grand Valley, but also helping existing businesses grow. Part of that effort will involve visiting with business owners and managers to identify and oversome impediments to growth.
In addition, the chamber will continue to advocate for a more favorable business climate through the legislative and regulatory processes on local, state and national levels. Sometimes that involves working out issues with municipal or county governments, lobbying for or against measures before the Colorado Legislature or Congress, Tufly says.
In addition, 2018 will be an election year with campaigns for local, state and national offices as well as the potential for ballot issues.
The business climate has improved, Tufly says, although Mesa County has lagged behind other areas of Colorado and the United States in recovering from the Great Recession. “I think it is steady and improving.”
Tufly says he’s encouraged by such indicators as increasing real estate activity, sales tax collections and new home construction. There’s a growing confidence among business owners and managers as well as consumers, he says. “Overall, I think the sentiment is we’re continuing to improve.”
There’s always room for improvement, though, in the business climate and community even as Grand Junction has more to offer, Tufly says. And there’s always a role for the chamber and its members to help make the community an even better place.