County candidate focuses on economy
Commission hopeful plans to boost small businesses, encourage tourism, create biz liaison
Mesa County commissioner candidate John Leane announced Thursday his three-point plan for improving the county’s economy to a gathering of family, friends and supporters in front of the county courthouse.
The unaffiliated Leane, a former Democrat and commissioner from 1989 to 1993, told supporters he was running a “different kind” of campaign because of his unaffiliated status, and that his campaign will focus on economic improvement as a top priority.
“In my view, the commission has not paid enough attention to economic development over the past few years,” Leane said.
The first step of Leane’s proposed plan would use $250,000 to reward 50 small, local businesses that hire four new full-time employees for at least one year. Each business would receive $5,000, and though Leane noted that it’s not a huge reward, he hopes it will bring more attention to small businesses.
“It recognizes an area that I don’t think gets much recognition other than lip service,” Leane said. “Small businesses need to be elevated in people’s sights. We take them for granted.”
Leane said his next point of focus is boosting tourism by entering into a $50,000 agreement between Mesa County and the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau.
With the extra funds, Leane proposes the county and VCB create new events such as a western Colorado marathon or youth sports tournaments to bring more visitors to the Grand Valley.
Leane said he hopes for community involvement in brainstorming events.
“I don’t expect the VCB to go out and do it. I expect the community to come to them (with ideas),” he said.
Leane’s final proposal is to create a part-time position of business and development coordinator to assist and answer questions for anyone interested in development in the county..
“By having this person, I believe we can speed up the building process, which speeds up job growth and general economic activity,” Leane said. “I hear frequently ... that folks who want to develop a property ... don’t know who to talk to or where to go get basic information. I want Mesa County to be seen as the most helpful place to do business in the entire state.”
Leane has tentatively scheduled another meeting outside the courthouse in two weeks to reveal how he plans to adjust the budget to allow for his proposals.
“The economics in the valley in the future, 10, 15 years down the road is excellent,” Leane said, “I think growing the economy would benefit the most number of people and is not being currently addressed. That’s why this is my number one issue.”