Business group touts its value in talk with council

Grand Junction’s four newest councilors received a primer in the workings of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership a day before today’s quarterly meeting between the two agencies.

Some councilors at a meeting last week questioned the role of the nonprofit organization in successfully attracting new businesses to the Grand Valley and helping current businesses to expand.

Grand Junction allocates $40,000 a year to GJEP. The city’s contribution and funding from other local governments make up 13 percent of GJEP’s $450,000 annual budget, with the remainder derived from fundraising in the private sector, Executive Director Kelly Flenniken told councilors during Monday’s meeting.

“We have to go a long way with a little,” she said.

Flenniken gave councilors a rundown of the group’s operations, including attending about four trade shows a year, cold-calling business owners about the prospect of locating their business here, and working with the Weather Channel to possibly advertise the Grand Valley as an area with fabulous weather and a low risk for natural disasters.

Flenniken also described a campaign last year in which the group added inserts inside admission mailings to every student at Colorado Mesa University in an attempt to highlight to students’ parents the benefits of moving to the Grand Valley.

“Kelly saw this as a great opportunity to slide it into the mailers and pique (parents’) interest to the valley, ” GJEP board member Clark Atkinson said. “I just wanted to say Kelly’s done a spectacular job of leveraging those dollars.”

Flenniken said GJEP believes it has six success stories from last year of expanding businesses and attracting new business to the Grand Valley.

“You don’t see a lot of this because you’re not GJEP’s target market,” she told councilors about their marketing push.

Councilors during a March 3 meeting discussed their ideas of economic development. It is one of their three stated goals, as well as improving infrastructure and public safety.

City Manager Rich Englehart said he’s heard from councilors a range of ideologies on economic development, from hiring a person to do the work to having government get out of the way.

Councilors did not come to a consensus or a specific plan on how they planned to tackle economic development at that meeting.


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