Positive signs

Diane Schwenke
Diane Schwenke, GJ Chamber

 Locally we see a economy that is no longer in decline but slowly, very slowly, beginning to recover,” says Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce,  “And that will lead to some job growth and some capital expenditures.”

“The city and county continue to invest in infrastructure which creates jobs, we have a growing university, a great local healthcare system,” adds Jon Maraschin of the Incubator Center, “And there seems to be a lot of activity around our natural gas sector, and all of these things should add up to more jobs for the Grand Valley.”

While both entities acknowledge the obvious problems in the economy such as unemployment, lack of capital and the need for more consumer and business confidence, they also foresee better opportunities for 2012. The Incubator center continues to work with startup and existing business to focus their business plans and efforts so they can be ready to grow as the economy grows. The Chamber points to its most recent survey where it recognized 40 local companies that invested over $65 million and created nearly 700 jobs as signs of a turnaround.

Both the Chamber and Incubator also pointed to the increases in local sales tax revenues as a good indicator that consumer confidence is on the upswing. And while the Chamber survey still shows confidence in the economy as somewhat weak, that number is indeed improving. Both Schwenke and Maraschin agree this is good news for a local economy that tends to be a bit behind the national economic curve.

Both Schwenke and Maraschin sees folks sitting tight for much of the year to see the outcomes of the elections and current regulations making their way through their perspective governmental bodies, but both agree 2012 will be better once businesses understand  how the policies and leaders to be put into place will affect their bottom lines.

“Banks want to lend, and we are spending a great deal of time helping businesses get their houses in order to take advantage of the great rates available once the confidence comes back,” says Maraschin. “There’s a lot of pent up demand that both consumers are looking to spend and that businesses are looking to meet in demand,” added Schwenke.