Capitalize on all opportunities for economic development
By Rose Pugliese
Mesa County Commissioner
Mesa County is a gem. It offers an incredible quality of life, world-class recreational opportunities, strong schools, safe neighborhoods, innovative health care, breathtaking scenery and friendly people. Why wouldn’t we want to capitalize on every opportunity to increase the exposure of our community to a broader audience with the expectation it will deliver better-paying jobs and growth for area businesses, builders and developers?
Mesa County needs an influx of new ideas to bring fresh economic development activity. That is in no way saying that the community’s existing economic development efforts have failed. The board is thankful our community has talented, invested partners at organizations such as The Business Incubator, Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the Grand Junction, Palisade, Fruita and Latino chambers of commerce that help discover, recruit, grow and support local business.
In the past several years, we have witnessed significant expansions and growth in area hospitals, manufacturing and Colorado Mesa University. The fairgrounds are undergoing marked improvements, and Grand Junction has been named to a list of top tech start-up sites nationwide. Clearly we are moving in a positive direction.
However, as we looked at our current unemployment rate and our housing market and we watched talented young professionals leave CMU and jet for bigger communities, we knew we needed to foster more opportunities. Our board created a strategic plan for the direction of the county in which we inextricably linked economic prosperity to our community’s success. Through encouraging business expansion, new business development and meaningful job growth, a prosperous economy can result in a lower need for government assistance.
The county has currently identified two significant economic development opportunities. One is through an unprecedented editorial profile of Mesa County in the in-flight magazine of US Airways. It is a feature that will put the best Mesa County has to offer in front of more than 6 million educated, well-funded and captive readers as they travel throughout the world. These are business owners who will be looking to grow, expand or relocate, and these are travelers looking to visit our hidden gem and spend money on our wine, fruit and hospitality. The other initiative is through a video partnership that will showcase Mesa County to potential visitors and those considering relocation.
The US Airways opportunity is exciting indeed. This will be a 12- to 15-page showcase of the very best Mesa County has to offer from real estate, retail and healthcare to economic development potential, quality of life, recreational amenities and education. This feature will be published in the June issue of the magazine regardless of how many partners are able to contribute content and share expense. This impact can be maximized by a shared vision and commitment to the betterment of Mesa County.
This is an opportunity that can be as big or small as we allow it to be. If organizations seize this opportunity to craft a captivating story that captures the spirit of Mesa County, the return on investment can be significant. If we do not come together as partners, this opportunity will pass us by as quickly as a reader turns the page to another community profile with more vision and cooperation.
The video partnership is a series of videos showcasing Mesa County to those who are directed to our website. A number of videos are being produced that welcome folks to Mesa County through fantastic images and driving narration, highlighting the quality of life in Mesa County, speaking to our commitment to public safety and health, as well as our ongoing commitment to economic development.
Area businesses will be given the opportunity to sponsor these videos and have their information and summary of services prominently displayed. It is another opportunity for business owners and community partners to expand their reach to a broader audience for a minimal investment.
These are opportunities in which the county is acting as a facilitator. These are not “county initiatives” or “county programs.” The county is connecting local businesses and organizations with national media that can help increase exposure, marketing and development opportunity.
Some might say it is not the role of government to get involved in economic development and community marketing initiatives.
There are few more committed to small government than this board. What we have done is provide an opening for our businesses and community organizations to reach a larger audience at a very reasonable price. Whether these opportunities are right for your business is up to you.
To be clear, increased economic activity and community growth are the major objectives of these projects, regardless of whomever or however these opportunities were presented. This is a partnership for Mesa County’s betterment. We are invested in this together. We will only make this community a better place to live, work and play if we work together, combine our resources and tell a joint story of our strengths. Let us capitalize on a growing force of positive media exposure and share with the world why Mesa County is among the finest communities in the West.
Rose Pugliese is a Mesa County commissioner.