CNBC to spotlight GJ

There was a somber interlude during an otherwise festive night last Friday in which Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce leaders bemoaned the current tough business climate.

Energy companies have scaled back expansion plans and pulled out drilling rigs, some local businesses have laid off employees or closed their doors altogether and a hot housing market has cooled.

Those setbacks, however, constitute a mini-slide compared to the avalanche that has buried other communities and the nation as a whole in this recession. And the fact that the Grand Junction area has survived and, in many ways, thrived during the downturn has garnered national attention.

Grand Junction Mayor Gregg Palmer will be featured on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Wednesday to talk about why the city has fared so well compared to others. The program will air at 8 a.m. Wednesday on Bresnan cable channel 58.

Grand Junction is one of five communities being highlighted on the program this week. Another, Morgantown, W.Va., was featured Monday morning. The other three cities weren’t
immediately known.

“I think it’s important for not only our own community members to be reminded of our situation here, but it’s a great opportunity to tout ourselves to the rest of the country,” Palmer said.

The mayor will be interviewed live from the Rocky Mountain PBS studio at Western Colorado Community College. The Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau provided video footage of the area that will accompany Palmer’s interview.

Stefanie Kratter, segment producer for “Squawk on the Street,” could not be reached for comment Monday. But Palmer said producers told him they want to know how Grand Junction has held up so well financially compared to the rest of the country.

Much of the credit for Grand Junction’s relative prosperity goes to the energy industry. But Palmer said lessons learned from the oil shale bust of the 1980s have played a major role as well, including efforts to diversify the economy, create public-private partnerships and recruit and retain businesses.

“We continue to put so much money into infrastructure, and it encourages other people to come into the community and invest as well,” he said. “We’re not playing catch-up. We’re actually ahead of the curve a little bit.”

Palmer said he plans to play up the importance of the tourism and agriculture industries as well as Grand Junction’s position as a regional shopping destination and medical-care and higher-education provider. He also will share advice with mayors of municipalities struggling to survive.

“I’m very sympathetic to other communities that are not doing well,” he said. “Of course, there are downsides to the tremendous growth we’re seeing. But I would rather have growing pains than recession pains.”


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