News releases an indicator of robust economy

Phil Castle

One of my jobs as editor of a business journal is to follow and report on economic indicators. And I do. A lot. Everything from unemployment rates to real estate sales to tax collections. That’s not to mention the various confidence indexes based on the results of surveys of business owners and leaders.

As something of an economics geek, I consider indicators fascinating stuff. Far more important, indicators offer statistical snapshots of various aspects of the economy. Kind of like vital signs, to use a medical metaphor. And that’s useful information to business owners and managers.

To demonstrate just how far my economics geekiness extends, I’ve long aspired to come up with my own indicator. The Phil Castle Index of Grand Valley Business Conditions has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Tragically, I’ve yet to figure out just what to track.

I’ve been inspired over recent weeks, though, by the number of news releases I’ve received about businesses opening in the Grand Valley, moving into different quarters and expanding operations. This website is chock-full of stories short and long about them. The list includes Burlington Stores, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Craft Coffee and Beer House, Colorado Health Network, Element Outdoors and Overland and OakStar Bank. For those who haven’t already, check out the story about the Hotel Melrose in downtown Grand Junction and the successful efforts to put that historic enterprise back in business.

Still other recent stories reported on plans to open a Costco Warehouse in Grand Junction as well as the impending opening of a combined Family Dollar and Dollar Tree store in the refurbished Monument Village Shopping Center.

I can’t recall a time over the past 25 years when I’ve reported on so many new businesses opening or expanding operations.

That’s an indicator, of course, of the economic strength of the Grand Valley. And it’s not just about my observations. It’s based on the cumulative decisions of people a lot smarter than I am — business owners and executives who’ve elected to spend millions and millions of dollars in this area. They know what they’re doing, and they’ve done their homework. And they know a good investment when they see one.

Here’s the best part. It’s a leading indicator that signals what likely will be subsequent growth in terms of new construction and jobs.

An indicator based on news releases isn’t exactly scientific or systematic. Much to my considerable consternation, not every business sends out releases regardless of the newsworthiness of their endeavors. Moreover, I  don’t receive all the releases that are written. Although it would make sense, at least to me, to send releases about businesses to the editor of a business journal.

But here, at long last, is my point. Releases about new business openings, relocations and expansions offer an anecdotal indicator of economic strength.

And the news, I’m happy to report, is mostly good.

Phil Castle is editor of the Business Times. Reach him at
or 424-5133.