Economic group hopes to lure metal-work service provider

Kelly Flenniken, right, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, and her staff such as director of communications Laura Peters, left, are looking at ways to better streamline GJEP’s incentive program.

For years, some businesses have passed up locating in Grand Junction because it lacked general access to a specific manufacturing service called anodizing.

While a few businesses here have their own processes for anodizing metal, a process which strengthens the oxide layer on metal and better allows paint to adhere to it, there is no widespread availability. Most local businesses that need parts anodized ship out those goods and have them shipped back.

That could soon change. In an unprecedented move, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership will alter its incentive program and allow qualified companies to bid on providing the service.

GJEP’s incentive program typically offers cash assistance to primary businesses that work to bring new jobs to the area.

“I do hope that this can all play out the way I envision it,” said Kelly Flenniken, executive director of GJEP. “This could be a great win for the city. From a recruiting standpoint, if this RFP (Request for Proposal) process is successful I’ll tell the whole network (of economic development groups). It may work to bring another business into town.”

For a local company to offer anodizing services to other companies, it must pass a lengthy and expensive certification process and gain approval from agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Diane Schwenke, Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer. Gaining that certification, called the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program, or NADCAP, costs between $300,000 and $400,000 and can take up to 18 months, she said.

Those hurdles probably are why no company to date has taken up the challenge to gain certification, Schwenke said.

“It has been something that we’ve lacked for a long time,” she said of a company that offered more access to anodizing. “Several years ago we were working with a company that needed that process and didn’t come here because we didn’t have it. Companies are having to ship (products) out of the valley and ship them back. We end up at a competitive disadvantage.”

Schwenke said she applauds GJEP for “thinking outside the box” to use incentive dollars in a different manner. Economic development analysts have determined that, as a result of the recession, businesses are interested in developing and investing in capital improvements. That often has less to do with adding direct jobs, though it can have the effect of attracting more support businesses, and therefore more jobs, to an area, she said.

“Business is becoming increasingly more high-tech,” Schwenke said. “If that attracts higher-paying jobs to the area, those are the ones we need to have in this community.”

GJEP board members believe there are between four and six qualified local companies that may be interested in bidding on a process to earn funds to launch an anodizing process.

Because GJEP incentive funds are allocated by city councilors through sales tax dollars and are public funds, the group’s board members feel they should be reallocated to a project that benefits the community.

Denny Granum, a GJEP board member since 1983, said small manufacturing companies looking to locate in Grand Junction usually first query about access to a local anodizing process.

“It’s really hard for somebody to go into the anodizing process,” he said. “They have to justify the outlay of money and the attitude of if they build it, they will come. If they do it as a service to the community, we should participate in the cost of it.”


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