Short of Elon Musk announcing the opening of a massive factory in the Grand Valley and employing 10,000 people to build rockets or cars or maybe rocket cars, there’s no single solution to the lagging economy in Mesa County.
Fortunately, a multitude of smaller efforts are under way that, accumulatively, could help existing businesses expand, encourage new businesses to move here and otherwise increase sales. You can more read about some of those efforts in this very issue, but here’s a brief recap to make a point:
The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and Grand Junction Economic Partnership have joined in efforts to take the next step to explore how best to set up a foreign trade zone and the costs involved in doing so. Foreign trade zones offer benefits to participating businesses that import and export materials, components and other goods. Businesses are allowed to import goods without paying a duty until those goods leave the zone and enter U.S. commerce. When imported materials and components are used to make finished products, duties can be assessed at what’s often a lower rate applied to those products. When merchandise is exported from a zone, no duties are assessed. Establishing a foreign trade zone in Mesa County could help existing businesses, in particular manufacturers, while also attracting new businesses to the area.
The Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission has submitted bids to bring a variety of collegiate championships to local venues. The commission has submitted bids for divisional and national championships in everything from swimming and tennis to marksmanship and skiing. The effort makes sense considering the Grand Valley has a long history of hosting college sporting events, including most notably the junior college baseball world series.
The Mesa County Workforce Center in Grand Junction expects to soon introduce the Work Ready Communities program. The goal of the program is to improve the matchmaking process between businesses looking for employees and people looking for jobs. The program involves two major components: job profiling that analyzes and quantifies a given position and career-readiness testing that measures and certifies the skills of a given job applicant. Businesses can focus recruiting on those applicants who’ve already demonstrated their qualifications. Applicants in turn can use their credentials to land jobs. Win-win. The program offers still other benefits in better quantifying the labor force and identifying and narrowing skill gaps — pertinent stuff for a business considering whether or not to expand, relocate or open an operation.
Meanwhile, there’s more good business news in the continued expansion of health care services in the Grand Valley as well as the facilities and programs at Colorado Mesa University. Moreover, intrepid entrepreneurs launch new ventures nearly every day — some that only employ them, but others that grow and create new jobs.
So what if there’s no big silver bullet that’s going to kill the proverbial werewolf of a sluggish economy? There are still lots of little bullets that can be fired that, over time, will do the job. In fact, there’s the case to be made a more diversified economy comprised of lots of smaller, but different, businesses is more resilient than an economy dependent on one big employer or single industry sector.
Here’s hoping all those small efforts soon led to big results.