Community partnerships make Grand Junction unique

By Tim Foster and Chris Thomas

Every time we travel on business we find ourselves looking at many a blank face as we describe so many of the unique relationships our organizations have developed around our county, region and state. What seems normal to us often leaves people baffled outside the confines of our “can-do” valley.

When elected officials and college administrators around our state learn that the physical growth of Mesa State College is largely funded by contributions from individual donors, as well as the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County, they can’t believe it.

When congressmen, senators and even the president of the United States survey the horizon to find examples of “outside the box” quality health care delivery models, Grand Junction is on everyone’s short list.

From where we sit, this is no accident. Whether it’s rugged individualism or just a true common-sense approach to solving problems, our community leads the way when it comes to innovation, collaboration and getting things done.

Last week, we announced that Mesa State College will purchase the eight-acre Community Hospital property on North 12th Street to accommodate growth at the institution and to jumpstart the hospital’s planned new facility in the vicinity of 24 and G roads in Grand Junction. The deal will allow Community Hospital to remain in the current facility for the next five years as planning and construction take shape for the new hospital complex.

While many of Community Hospital’s amenities are uniquely suited for the host of successful health sciences programs at Mesa State, other portions of the property will be used to meet student needs and enhance programs. Right away, the college will break ground on a 182-bed, apartment-style student housing complex at the corner of 12th Street and Orchard Avenue. It is expected to open in autumn, 2012.

Having just wrapped up a semester with a record-breaking 8,300 students enrolled, the college engaged an independent firm to assess student housing demand on our campus. The survey confirmed what was expected: Even after the brand-new, 300-bed Bunting Hall unit opens this fall, the college will still be about 244 beds short of meeting student demand on the first day of class. Locating a new housing unit on the northern end of the campus will appeal to many students participating in athletics, health-sciences programs and the numerous activities that take place in the Maverick Center and at Walker Field.

As each of our respective boards of trustees contemplated this partnership, everyone recognized the positive impact of knocking over this first domino. Enabling the construction of a new student housing complex means jobs in our community. Pushing ahead on the development of the $45 million to $50 million new hospital also means jobs, economic impact and an enhanced quality of life for everyone in our valley.

Taking time to consider the totality of the circumstances while contemplating what’s best for everyone involved is not unique to this partnership — it’s unique to Grand Junction.

Tim Foster is the President of Mesa State College and Chris Thomas is President and CEO of Community Hospital.


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