MESA COUNTY, Colo.
The streets are smooth in Grand Junction, but the road to economic recovery is a bumpy one.
Robin Brown with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership says, “I think we’re at 6.2% unemployment today, which isn’t great, but there are jobs out there. There are jobs available.”
Colorado will regain over 40,000 jobs, but lost over 128,000 according to the Colorado Business Economic Outlook, and Mesa County is leading the state and the nation in COVID-19 job recovery thanks to teamwork. Diane Schwenke with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce says, “Back in March of 2020 we formed what is known as the Mesa County Economic Development First Responder team.” Robin says, “It’s a weekly meeting with the chamber, CMU, the workforce center, our municipalities, and it’s a problem solving group.”
Over 600 businesses are 5 star in Mesa County thanks to the Economic Developers First Responders group serving as EMT’s for our local economy. “Wow! We’re going to level orange, but because of the 5 Star program been able to operate at that level,” Shwenke said.
Leisure and hospitality industries were hit hardest by the pandemic according to the CBEO, but they’re also projected to grow the most in 2021 with an expected job gain of 19,200 jobs. “No doubt we’ll get a percentage of those jobs here in Grand Junction, and throughout the Western Slope,” said Schwenke.
Trade, transportation, and utilities will see the second largest job gains with 14,700 jobs. Health services, business services, private education, and manufacturing will earn back over 11,000 jobs as the Rural Jump Start program continues to draw economic development. “If you come and bring new jobs here, you can operate tax free for up to eight years,” said Brown.