What’s in a name? It really doesn’t matter if you’re small

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

I usually tend to draw back from folks who use the term “fait accompli.” But let’s face facts folks, this term could not apply any more perfectly to the upcoming, unquestioned name change of North Avenue to University Boulevard. This has to be the worst-kept, next-approved item on the city council’s agenda since they revved up the backhoes at the Avalon to start digging before the vote was over.

This was over before I was visited by Lucky Lucero about a year ago at my office to ask my opinion on the topic. I gave him my opinion, which he very politely ignored before going into all of the reasons why this is great for the university (DUH), how it will help grow my business, the economy and jobs, all while assuring me he only had the best interest of the city at heart. Well, he sure didn’t have mine in there, so it must have been someone else’s. This simply could not be the power of one man’s lone voice crying in the wilderness. That thought wasn’t in my heart, it was in my gut. Maybe Levi should have been on the renaming committee for the university, he could have supported calling it North Avenue University and I wouldn’t have to write this today.

I also received a survey from the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce asking me how I feel about the name change. And I answered it together with the laugh track turned up, because what I think doesn’t matter. Because of the estimated 800 businesses on North Avenue, only one really matters and benefits, and that’s because it gets a cool street name that matches what it does — unless the university believes the name of a street will make 17-year-olds going into thousands of dollars worth of debt with no job change their mind on where to spend the loan, which is an entirely different problem.

I’ve seen the estimates saying it will only cost about “whatever” to change over the street name, a few cents per city resident. Let’s forget the competitively priced city workers and all the hours involved in changing our signs. I can see where if you gave those numbers to someone who lives at the corner of J 17/32 and 19.5 7/56 roads (speaking of a road or two that need a name change, how do you order a pizza?) that person would say, “Who cares? Doesn’t matter to me” And why wouldn’t they, this doesn’t matter to them.

Here’s who it does affect: The business owners on North Avenue. Last year, I printed up a small supply of envelopes, letterhead, folders, business cards and flyers for my business. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a lot to me. The cost? About $800. Now multiply that by 800. Now factor in the fact that many of these businesses are much larger than mine. Just like every decision government makes, the unintended costs both in the plan and outside the plan is where it really hurts. This is just the start.

Let’s add another scenario on to the name change. How about all of the costs involved in changing business licenses and legal documents? How about the employee costs in letting customers and clients know the address change? How about a small business that has to make payroll or a tax payment waiting on a client’s check where the client hasn’t updated the address in Quickbooks and payroll bounces. Or worse yet, the loss of the check causes them to shut down? Is that likely to happen? Maybe not exactly.  But ask any small business owner how scary it can be waiting on a promised payment when checks are out. And then heighten that when a check is lost in the mail. That DOES happen all the time. The name change won’t help a business then.

You know, for years we’ve been told the greatest asset we have in the Grand Valley is the lifestyle — wineries, scenic beauty, mountain biking, hiking, the river, close to skiing, Frisbee golf, gateway to the West, Lake Powell, golf, climate and the list goes on and on as to why people choose to live, visit, relocate a business or family and yes, even go to college here. After all, we have GJEP, the VCB, the Business Incubator, three separate chambers of commerce, TaxFree Colorado, the governor’s offices on tourism and economic growth, wine boards, improvement districts, boards and alphabet agencies all promoting just how great the amenities are in the Grand Valley. Maybe none of these are needed any longer if all it takes is changing the name of a street for success, jobs and economic growth. Well, it is for entities that truly benefit, just not the rest of us.

Just how many tax dollars can we save if we change the name of Interstate 70 to “The land of good and plenty with beautiful views in an all-inclusive environment of love, happiness, pot, gambling, skiing, golf and mountains, all wrapped up in everything that’s ever been great and that you ever wanted in peace and tranquility highway?” I’m sure I missed a few, but that should bring in enough tax dollars that Gubner Hick can respond to a chemical spill faster. And it sounds better than Parking Lot Lane.

Or maybe we can change the name of College Place to University Place and put in a big mailbox?

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