Local economy showing signs of life

Sales-tax collections in Grand Junction and Mesa County are reflecting some life in the Western Colorado economy.

We hope it’s just the beginning of a rejuvenation of the local economy much battered by national woes and the steep decline in the western Colorado energy industry.

“There are some positive signs we’re moving in the right direction,” Jodi Romero, the financial operations manager for the city said when noting that March receipts were off 4 percent from the previous March.

In January, the same comparison showed that receipts were down 18 percent.

Those figures suggest the steep drop might be leveling out.

The figures suggest to Mesa County Finance Director Marcia Arnhold that the Grand Valley economy is getting ready to grow again, though not as robustly as anyone might like.

“We certainly don’t expect (revenue) to come back quickly, but hopefully we’ve bottomed out and we can begin to grow,” Arnhold said.

We should expect some improvement, of course, with the arrival of summer, when we hope to see tourism begin to fill hotel rooms, restaurants, the downtown shops and the stores at Mesa Mall.

In that vein, we hope the arrival of Cabela’s, the sporting goods giant that took over a long-empty department-store space at the mall, proves to be a regional draw for western Colorado and eastern Utah. We hope other longtime businesses, such as Gene Taylor’s Sporting Goods and Sportsman’s Warehouse, see a spillover from people drawn to check out the West Slope’s newest retail offering.

One good thing about an economic slowdown is that prices tend to fall and we’d encourage any Grand Valley resident to take that into account when considering purchasing new cars, new sporting equipment and the like.

It won’t just fill a personal need, but every dollar spent in the Grand Valley is one more step toward much-needed new hiring and new investment here.

The forecast for gasoline prices to remain at $3 a gallon or below also is a hopeful sign and we hope it translates into more business from out of town than the western Colorado hospitality industry might have anticipated — from hotels to restaurants to wineries and roadside fruit stands.

Western Colorado obviously has a long way to go to begin its economic recovery and the sales-tax revenues we’re seeing now constitute only the smallest of steps in the long journey to economic recovery. Even if those steps are not yet in the right direction, we hope that they are at least turning away from the wrong one.


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