Pirates and quarterbacks metaphors for proactive economic development role

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Like plundering pirates or game-winning quarterbacks, depending on the preferred metaphor, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership has adopted a more proactive role, according to the leaders of the economic development organization.

John Williams, chairman of the GJEP board, and Kelly Flenniken, executive director of the organization, discussed the changes during brief remarks at the GJEP annual meeting.

Williams said GJEP traces its origin to efforts to rebuild the Mesa County economy in the aftermath of the oil shale bust, including the aggressive actions of founding members to recruit companies. “They were pirates. They went after businesses,” he said.

When the Western Colorado economy boomed along with energy exploration and development and unemployment dropped to low levels, GJEP became complacent, Williams said. But in the aftermath of the subsequent recession, board members have reaffirmed GJEP has a role in promoting growth and jobs, he added. “Yeah, we’re relevant. We need to be pirates again.”

In using a football metaphor, Flenniken said the role of GJEP has changed from wide receiver to quarterback. Rather than simply reacting to potential leads, GJEP must proactively develop opportunities, she said. “We need to look at the whole field.”

The effort requires the teamwork of not only GJEP board members and staff, but also local business owners and managers, Flenniken added. “In order for us to be really successful, we all need to play.”