Another project helps prime economic pump

The announcement by St. Mary’s Hospital Thursday that it will soon embark on the next phase in completion of its 12-story Century Project is welcome news, both for the health care system in western Colorado and for the local economy.

The $40 million project is one more local endeavor that will help prime the area’s economic pump as we continue to recover from the recession that arrived four years ago.

The project consists of completing the infrastructure on floors nine through 12 of the St. Mary’s tower that opened a little more than three years ago. Only the structural shells of those four floors were completed at the time.

Additionally, floors 11 and 12 will be completed, and two important health care units now operating in older parts of the hospital will move to the tower with considerably more space. The surgical nursing unit will move to the 11th floor, growing from 25 to 32 private rooms with state-of-the-art equipment.

The hospital’s rehabilitation unit will move to the 12th floor and expand from 15 rooms to 24 private rooms. That will be a benefit to the entire Western Slope, allowing room for some rehabilitation patients who now must be sent to Denver.

The ninth and 10th floors will be finished in Phase Two of the completion projection.

Equally important, this phase of the project will be completed entirely with money the hospital system’s owner has been saving for the project. It will not be engaging in another community fund drive to help raise money for it. It will not be withdrawing money from circulation in the community. And St. Mary’s has asked only three local contractors to bid on the project.

St. Mary’s announcement follows the news by West Star Aviation and Grand Junction Regional Airport this month that the airplane service company will expand its operations here to include painting and refurbishing of top-end corporate jets, constructing a new $8 million facility and adding an estimated 150 jobs with above-average salaries over the next five years.

And it came on the heels of the groundbreaking ceremony this week at Colorado Mesa University for a new, $21 million academic classroom building. The 72,000-square-foot building at 1020 Elm Ave. is expected to open next fall.

These are in addition to the new Canyon View medical complex that Community Hospital and a group of local physicians are constructing at 2373 G Road. Phase One of that $21 million project is scheduled to open next January.

This follows the news that Mesa County’s unemployment rate in April dropped to its lowest level in four years.

But economic vibrancy depends on local emotions, as well as a number of big projects, a feeling of optimism and enthusiasm for the future. The information listed above should provide solid reasons for such optimism.


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