Visit boosts local economy

Abiram Baird of Grand Junction puts together trusses for the lights as other workers erect the stage in preparation for President Obama’s town hall meeting at Central High School. Baird is an employee of Snob Productions of Grand Junction.

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Marriott General Manager Daniel Gomez has known for more than a month that the president’s Secret Service personnel planned to stay at his hotels this week.

Aside from having the safest hotel in town this week, Gomez said he’s excited to have every room in the Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn, both on Horizon Drive, booked by Secret Service members and other guests.

“It doesn’t happen in this economy,” Gomez said of having a full house.

Weekends especially are slow times for the hotel industry because people on business trips have mostly gone home by the end of the week.

“It definitely helps us, and it’s a great way to end the summer,” Gomez said.

Kevin Reimer, co-owner of the Hampton Inn and Hawthorn Suites, said Obama staff members are staying at both of his hotels this week. The Marriotts and the two downtown hotels are the only hotels in town that were booked solid by Friday morning. Debbie Kovalik, Grand Junction
Visitor and Convention Bureau executive director, said she anticipates that will change with a little help from the Palisade Peach Festival.

“We were expecting the hotels to be full anyway, and they will be,” she said. “I would guess quite a bit of those coming are here for the president’s visit. The rest will fill with people going to the peach festival.”

This weekend may be a needed boost for hotels, which have seen a dip in lodging tax collections the past four months because of a 30 percent slide in room rates since last year, as well as struggling retailers and restaurants, Kovalik said.

“It’s a fabulous opportunity for them to realize a business opportunity they really haven’t had all summer,” she said.

Alex Ordonez, owner of Axis Screen Printing, has experienced a slight bump in business this week from people seeking to advertise their views on President Barack Obama on a T-shirt.

“There’s been a few people ordering shirts for Obama, but they’re not positive,” Ordonez said.

Ordonez, an Obama supporter, said he won’t begrudge anyone a T-shirt slogan request as long as it’s “not really derogatory” and “somewhat clean.” He printed 50 T-shirts of a cartoon Obama with a foot in its mouth and the slogan “I acted stupidly” for a former police officer protesting Obama’s comment about Cambridge, Mass., police after the July 16 arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Snob Productions Inc. will have a busy day today, providing equipment to multiple protests, including the 11:30 a.m. protest on the steps of the Old Mesa County Courthouse, and taking care of audio, video and lighting equipment setup and hauling for the president’s town hall meeting at Central High School.

“There’s a chunk of change in equipment going in there,” Snob Production Owner David Wall said, estimating the high school gym will fill with equipment valued in the six-digit or higher range.

The production company has kept busy lately, Wall said, but today’s events provide appreciated revenue.

“It keeps us busier than we already were,” he said.


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