It was inevitable. The heady time of the early 2000’s had to end someday. While we real estate owners and brokers had hoped growth would last longer than it did, the 1996-2008 growth trend in the Grand Valley left us with some lasting improvements. Improvements like new schools, new and improved roads and highways, major renovations to St. Mary’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center. Will we ever forget the dinner theater operations in Grand Junction? How about the remodel of the Avalon Theater? And most recently, we’ve added the pedestrian-friendly improvements to Main Street. How about Shaw Construction’s modern four-story office building on Horizon Drive? Look at the growth in the Fruita area and the city’s farsighted development of the Greenway Business Park. And retail development finally became part of our base industry in Grand Junction with the development of the Rimrock Market Place, the Grand Mesa Center, expansion at the Mesa Mall, a new Cabela’s, and of course, the Regal Theater. And that’s just the beginning of the list! You may think these were the good ol’ days.
Our last economic bust, in the early 1980’s, left Grand Junction with some newer office buildings on Horizon Court, a few industrial buildings off 23 Road in the Logos Court area and some new homes in various areas of Mesa County, many of which were ultimately foreclosed on and sold at incredible prices. The bumper sticker that made the news went something like this, “Will the last person leaving Grand Junction please turn out the lights”. And yet, a few hardy souls stayed the course and helped create a positive atmosphere for economic development and job growth. Ask Denny Granum and Joe Prinster what it was like to help create the Mesa County Economic Development Council (MCEDC) now known as the Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP). They led early meetings to set up the council and to help promote the Grand Valley as a wonderful place to bring or grow your business. California companies were targeted because, as everyone knew, large California manufacturers were sick and tired of high state regulation and taxation. Many were excited to move to a more business-friendly environment that western Colorado provided. And so they began to move to our area. Many of us think that these were the good ol’ days.
With every boom there is a bust. With every bust there are civic-minded people who understand the importance jobs have in maintaining a healthy community. Yes, IT’S ALL ABOUT JOBS! It is an ample supply of jobs that lets us raise our families with the possibility that our children will be able to find even better jobs when they’re ready to enter the workforce. It is a plentiful job market that allows us to sell our homes and our businesses for more money than we spent in purchasing or building them. And it is jobs that help give every American citizen the ability to care for their families and others around them. One day we’ll recognize that these indeed were good ol’ days. The kind of days when men and women joined together to maintain and build a healthy community. The days when we had our health and time to enjoy it. The days that we were able to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
As I look to the future of the Grand Valley, it is my fervent hope we have the same kinds of industrious, civic-minded people here to once again begin the process of getting through this cycle to come out better than before; the kind of folks who bring in and create the jobs to help the Grand Valley start the boom that always follows a bust. There are opportunities available in the Grand Valley right now in commercial real estate. We just need to have the banks, investors, community and government all working toward creating a stable economic environment that lets the job creators understand that they have the opportunity to get more for their investment than they put in.
Because if we do, we’ll never have to say, “Yeah, those were the good ol’ days,” because we’ll be too busy creating the next ones.