Governor gets earful on schools, LA flights

The lack of science, technology, engineering and math curricula in School District 51 kept one company from hiring a star applicant, one business owner told Colorado Gov John Hickenlooper on Sunday.

A direct Los Angeles flight, meanwhile, could significantly reduce global travel time for Grand Junction-based executives.

Hickenlooper met with several outdoor-industry business owners, Mesa County commissioners and Grand Junction city councilors in the Avalon Theater.

The outdoor industry is quickly becoming a major part of the Grand Valley economy, Hickenlooper said.

” I look at Grand Junction in the next three to five years as being on the cusp of some really big stuff,” Hickenlooper said.

To bring that prophecy to fruition, Hickenlooper could use his influence in a couple areas, he was told.

The funding formula that puts School District 51 at the bottom of the list for state funding didn’t go unnoticed when she tried to keep an executive who sold $2 million worth of business in 90 days, Sarah Schrader of Bonsai Design told Hickenlooper.

The executive ultimately opted against moving his family to Grand Junction because of the schools and low state funding, Shrader said.

Improving kindergarten through 12th grade schooling could improve the Grand Valley economy, Schrader said.

A direct flight to Los Angeles could significantly cut the travel time down from the 32 hours it now takes him to travel to Pacific Rim four to six times per year for business, said Tim Fry, president of Mountain Racing Products.

It also would make Colorado Mesa University more attractive to students in Southern California, Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster said.

The city and university are looking into ways to attract air service by guaranteeing seats, officials noted.

Better broadband service also could help Grand Junction recover from the economic doldrums, Mayor Phyllis Norris said, prompting Hickenlooper to note that fiber optic cable is being extended west along Interstate 70.


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