Go Kelly, Go!
The history of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership tracks the history of the Grand Valley itself. GJEP was created as a response to the energy crash of 1982. Its founders — a former publisher of this newspaper among them — aggressively worked to relocate businesses to this area to boost and stabilize a reeling local economy.
They put billboards along the most traffic-jammed freeways of Los Angeles with messages such as, “If you lived in Grand Junction, you’d be home by now.” Their efforts were so successful, they drew counter attacks from business interests and radio personalities in Los Angeles.
In later years, when the Grand Valley’s economy was booming, GJEP withdrew its outreach efforts and acted as a receiving agent for businesses wanting to move here. It took on a role of branding the community as business friendly and a great place to live.
Well, the cycle has turned again. We’re busting. So GJEP has re-aimed its efforts at outreach and hunting out-of-state business.
Enter Kelly Flenniken, GJEP’s newly-installed executive director.
Flenniken will be charged with returning GJEP to its pirate roots. Though she lacks the eye patch and salty demeanor, she has the appropriately aggressive disposition.
Flenniken’s success in her new role will hinge to a large extent on whether she has the wind at her stern. That is, when the founders of GJEP experienced so much success in the early days, the whole community was behind them, cheering them, supporting them and helping market Grand Junction to the world.
If this community embraces GJEP as it once did, the reward could be bountiful with Flenniken at the helm. Though many businesses contract their budgets for things like GJEP in dire times like these, the reality is that we need GJEP perhaps more now than at any time before.
So, raise a glass to Kelly Flenniken, the Grand Valley’s newest pirate — who also happens to be a deft economic development expert.