Council OKs plan to boost local economy
After months of discussion among Grand Junction city councilors about how best to nudge the area’s sagging economy, the seven-member board unanimously adopted an economic development plan during their Wednesday night meeting.
The plan includes specific steps that city leaders will take to stay on top of economic trends, provide amenities to encourage development, and work on ways to support existing businesses. Grand Junction’s councilors have identified three areas of focus: safety, infrastructure and economic development.
As part of the plan, Grand Junction is tasked with sending along economic and financial reports to the area’s other economic development groups. The plan also focuses on expanding technological infrastructure such as encouraging broadband-friendly practices and offering incentives for stealth technology, which includes camouflaging cell phone transmitters on existing power poles.
Grand Junction staff members have been identifying vacant properties and vacancy rates by areas of the city to provide up-to-date data to potential developers. In recent years the city’s planning process has been streamlined to more quickly allow developers to negotiate the permitting process.
A section of the economic development plan includes a snapshot of community demographics including the average cost of rent and average home values; levels of education of Grand Junction residents; and local employment rates and wages.
City Manager Rich Englehart said the plan does not bind the city to any legal requirements, but the city will be careful to be fair among all existing and potential businesses.
Grand Junction’s economic development plan will be added to ones created by the city of Fruita, the town of Palisade and Mesa County.
City councilor Bennett Boeschenstein said he was pleased to have the city’s arts and culture contributions identified as economic development in the plan.