Thankfully, there’s no dust on this Mesa County plan

How many times have studies been conducted and plans been drafted only to have the results of all that time and hard work sit on a shelf, so much paper gathering dust? How often is what initially seemed an essential undertaking never realized?

Fortunately, an economic development plan drafted for Mesa County has proved a welcome exception to the rule. And it’s to the credit of a broad coalition of business organizations, government entities and academic institutions that work continues apace to actually implement the plan and achieve its goals.

The coalition, called the Economic Development Partners, conducted a news conference to review progress toward three major goals: establish Mesa County has an epicenter for energy innovation, support the growth of existing businesses and promote a unified community brand.

The first goal is by far the most ambitious of the three, but also reflects the unique characteristics of Western Colorado as a source not only for such traditional fuels as coal and natural gas, but also such renewable energy sources as solar power and biomass. Creating an epicenter for energy innovation clearly constitutes a long-term endeavor, but some steps have been taken toward that objective. A new center at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction expects to award up to $160,000 this year to help fund applied research and work force development projects.

Meanwhile, work continues on the second goal. While it’s crucial to recruit new businesses to an area, it’s even more crucial to sustain the businesses that already exist here. In Mesa County, business owners and managers can be thankful for a cornucopia of available resources to help them, including programs offered by the Business Incubator Center and Mesa County Workforce Center. Local governments have joined in the effort in realizing the importance of fostering a welcoming business environment. In still another effort, a team of what’s described as “first responders” marshals local resources to help businesses, including those struggling to stay in business.

As for the third goal, work continues on presenting a united message about what it’s like to live, work and play in Mesa County. Once again, there’s an opportunity to capitalize on what makes the area unique, and that’s a place in which it’s possible to ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon, to put in a full day’s work and still have ample time for a long hike or mountain bike ride, to enjoy a scenic setting that includes redrock vistas and verdant vineyards. The Grand Junction Economic Partnership has posted a video on its website depicting those local outdoor activities and more as an additional incentive to those considering opening or relocating businesses here.

Those plans that most often come to fruition are those involving broad representation and collaboration and a sustained, long-term effort to achieve important goals. Here’s to the continued efforts to implement just such a plan in Mesa County.