Businesses troubled over proposed laws

Chris Brown wants legislators to allow him to get down to business.

The owner of Brown Cycles at 549 Main St. wishes he didn’t have to send 25 percent of what he doles out in paychecks to the federal government, and he’s worried more taxes or regulations he’ll have to pay for are on the way.

“They’re killing us,” Brown said of politicians.

He’s not alone in Mesa County. Fear about regulations and potential legislation has permeated into at least a portion of the Grand Junction business climate, according to the 2009 Listening to Business survey released Wednesday. Half of the 100 local businesses interviewed for the survey between January 2008 and April 2009 expressed concern about federal, state and local legislation.

Sixty-eight percent of businesses that hire locally but do business with customers outside of Mesa County said they expect legislation to negatively affect their companies in the next five years. The number moves up to 72 percent among retail, service and tourism companies.

The main issues of concern for those surveyed included regulation of the oil and gas industry, health-insurance mandates, property- and income-tax increases, a minimum-wage increase and changes in union benefits. The only legislation that has come to fruition in these arenas recently is oil and gas regulation, but that topic was “probably the biggest thing that came up” in interviews, according to Listening to Business surveyor Georgann Jouflas.

“It wasn’t just oil and gas companies,” Jouflas said. “(Interviewees in general) were extremely nervous.”

The survey interviewed representatives of 15 tourism companies, 15 manufacturers, 15 construction outfits, 14 restaurants, 13 service industry businesses, 12 energy companies, 10 retailers and six grocery stores.

Legislation didn’t have every business owner concerned. Less than half of the 100 businesses said they expected legislation to help their business. Banking legislation in particular inspired hope in some surveyed.

The survey also found 34 percent of those surveyed felt Grand Junction’s business climate is positive, while 12 percent found it negative. One-third of those surveyed believed the quality of life in Grand Junction is positive, and 19 percent feel the community and its economy are stable.

Two-thirds of the companies surveyed plan to expand or renovate within the next three years.

Thirty-seven percent plan to have a new location in the next three years. Seventy-one percent of retail, tourism and service businesses reported increased sales, and 56 percent of businesses working with customers outside Mesa County did the same.

The cities of Grand Junction and Fruita, Mesa State College, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the Business Incubator Center, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, the Mesa County Enterprise Zone, the Fruita Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau funded the survey.


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