Small details and big pictures both important in final analysis

Phil Castle

Yet another benefit of working as editor of a business journal is the opportunities the job affords to explore developments, issues and trends on both an individual and collective basis. I interview sources and collect information for stories, then assemble those stories for print and online editions.

It’s sort of like viewing pointillism painting. Lean in and peer closely, and all you’ll see are dots of color. But step back, and you’ll take in the bigger picture. The experience can be as astonishing as it is revelatory. I suppose the other analogy — and admonition — involves trees and forests.

Not counting the lemonade I used to peddle in front of my house as a kid, I’ve never operated a business. So I don’t have much experience or authority upon which to draw. But as a paid observer of business for nearly a quarter of a century, I believe I’ve learned not only the limitations of individual dots of data, but also the importance of occasionally connecting them.

To make short story long, all this serves as the lengthy introduction to the actual topic. And that’s what individual stories about tourism, commercial real estate and the labor market collectively reveal about the Grand Valley economy.

I always hope readers make time to, well, read in entirety the stories in the Business Times. The so-called inverse pyramid structure of journalism presents the most important information first. Still, there’s a lot to be gleaned from what follows the opening paragraphs.

To review, though, the forecasts for the summer tourism season and commercial real estate remain mostly upbeat. At least according to the sources I interviewed.

Lower gasoline prices and pent-up demand for travel are likely to make what’s already the busiest time of year for tourism that much busier. Higher interest rates and inflation continue to affect commercial real estate activity, but there’s underlying strength in the market. That includes investor demand, growing businesses and the increasing attraction of the Grand Valley as a place to work and live.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate in Mesa County edged up two-tenths of a point for May. But at 2.9 percent, the latest rate remains comparatively low and at a level that continues to reflect a tight labor market. While there’s usually a June jump in joblessness, my source at Mesa County Workforce Center expects the rate to retreat and then remain stable for the remainder of the year.

So what, then, do these stories reveal about the economy? I’m a Pollyanna who tends to see glasses as half full. I’d contend nonetheless the big picture constitutes an encouraging one.

Challenges remain. They nearly always do. A shortage of labor is made even worse by a shortage of affordable housing. Higher interest rates and inflation make matters worse and the cost of living costlier. The specter of a national recession exerting local effects lingers.

Overall, though, I’d assert the news remains mostly good. Individually and collectively.

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