Report predicts 3 percent growth for GJ
A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors released last week projects Grand Junction will be among the 66 percent of U.S. cities expected to experience economic growth in 2014.
The city’s economy will grow by 3 percent next year, up from a meager 0.3 percent growth this year, said the report prepared for the conference of mayors by iHS Global Insight.
In contrast, about 33 percent of the nation’s cities will see negative or flat growth in 2014, and of the metropolitan economies expected to expand, 38 percent will grow by one percent or less, the report said.
The report called on the federal government to implement policies and programs to accelerate growth.
“Because the recovery is still very fragile, we cannot afford manufactured crises like sequestration, the debt-ceiling battle and the federal government shutdown,” said Scott Smith, conference president and mayor of Mesa, Ariz.
Grand Junction business leaders said they were cautiously optimistic the projections would prove accurate based on encouraging signs in the local economy.
For example, “a handful” of out-of-area businesses, nearly half engaged in manufacturing, were on track to locate operations in or near Grand Junction in the next six months, said Kelly Flenniken, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.
“We have a good representation in aviation, specialized materials, energy-related manufacturing, and, kind of surprising to me, food and beverage manufacturing,” Flenniken said.
Of those, several are actively investigating properties and services available in the Grand Junction area with the help of the economic partnership, she said.
“I hate doing projections because I hate being wrong,” Flenniken said. “But I share that thought — that things are moving in the right direction.”
Projections based on national studies rarely prove accurate for local economies, said Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I think we have to use a lot of caution. Even if we’re looking at the metropolitan areas of Colorado, there is vast difference between what we are seeing in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins and Boulder as opposed to what we’re seeing over here in Grand Junction,” Schwenke said.
Grand Junction tends to lag behind Front Range communities, but Schwenke said she sees some early indications that the Grand Valley will experience economic growth in 2014.
“I think the unemployment numbers that just came out look good,” she said.
Housing forecasts by local real estate professionals, though cautious, also “look solid,” Schwenke said.
The “Mesa County Real Estate Report” for the third quarter of 2013 released by Advanced Title Company President Bob Reece on Monday buttressed Schwenke’s view.
Reece reported building permits issued for single-family housing were up 65 percent in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2012.
If the trend continues through December, as many as 450 building permits for single-family housing could be issued in 2013, a 20 percent increase compared to last year, Reece wrote.
“While not close to the volume of building seen in the peak of 2005, each additional home built represents three new, and generally well-paying, jobs, according to the National Association of Home Builders,” he wrote.
Of the 363 metro areas studied, Denver ranked 18th in terms of gross metropolitan product in 2011 with a value of slightly more than $161 billion.
Gross metropolitan product is the market value of all goods and services produced within a city during the given period.
Grand Junction’s gross metropolitan product was $5.1 billion in 2011. The city was number 275 on the list, according to the report.
The city’s gross metropolitan product was expected to grow to $5.3 billion this year and $5.6 billion in 2014, the report said.