Chamber businesses add more than 400 jobs this year

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce counted 413 new jobs created by its members in the first half of this year. It’s not a huge figure, but it came as a surprise for those convinced layoffs and maintaining the status quo have become the norm.

Comfort Keepers defied the odds amidst a 12 percent decrease in the number of people employed in Mesa County in July 2010 compared to July 2008. The home health care business at 1001 Patterson Road, Suite T, and 300 Main St., Suite 101, added 55 jobs last year and another five this spring, according to Human Resources Director Pat Stephenson. The employees offer nonmedical care for people who are mostly or fully confined to their homes.

Stephenson attributes the new hires to a combination of new clients and employee turnover. She suspects some of the company’s client growth stems from seniors wanting to save money.

“I wouldn’t say home care is doing well. It’s just becoming more in-demand as our seniors are realizing they can get help and stay home, which is cheaper than moving to a nursing home or assisted living,” Stephenson said.

Mesa Developmental Services, 950 Grand Ave., added 57 jobs in the second quarter of this year and invested $2.4 million in capital between April 1 and the end of the fiscal year June 30. As with Comfort Keepers, most of the new jobs at Mesa Developmental Services involve employees taking care of people where they live. All but four of the new jobs at Mesa Developmental Services went to medical professionals working in three new group homes, according to company spokeswoman Marilee Langfitt. The remaining positions went to vocational and therapy workers.

Mesa Developmental Services expanded because it received 58 new clients this year in various programs, Langfitt said.

The new group homes, which now account for one-fifth of Mesa Developmental Services’ group homes, accounted for the bulk of the organization’s capital investment this year. About one-third of the money spent on capital investment during the second quarter came from government funding, Langfitt said, and the rest came from private donations.

Sixty-one percent of respondents to a June 2009 Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce survey said they planned to delay capital expenditures for the next six months. Thirty-one percent of respondents said they planned to decrease the number of employees in their business.


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