Roughly 16 months after announcing he would move his company to Grand Junction and take up residence in the developing Riverfront at Las Colonias business park, Bobby Noyes has officially moved RockyMounts' headquarters into the Grand Valley.
But the owner of the bike rack and bike accessories manufacturer still feels like he is on some unsteady footing as he has yet to break ground on his permanent home and hit a snag in shipping his parts to the area from overseas.
Noyes and about six staffers have set up shop in a temporary home near 29 Road and Riverside Parkway in a warehouse that is owned by Colorado Mesa University. The company officially moved in mid-October after spending a few weeks in both Grand Junction and Boulder. He plans to have six more staffers on hand after the new year and hopes to hire around four new people.
In March, Noyes appeared to be roughly 60 days from breaking ground on what would be his new headquarters at the Riverfront at Las Colonias business park, but after voters rejected a change to the city's charter that would have allowed 99-year leases on city-owned property, things stalled.
"We didn't expect the need to wait for a ballot issue to break ground," Noyes said.
Grand Junction voters are once again asked to allow the city to lease land for up to 99 years, this time just at the business park and some surrounding areas.
He currently has a 25-year lease on the property, but is having some trouble securing financing to construct a building that he may only control for less than three decades. A 25-year lease is the longest allowed in the city's charter.
RockyMounts and Grand Junction-based Bonsai Design were the first two companies to sign leases for their businesses at the business park and received incentives to build there.
Grand Junction Economic Partnership Executive Director Robin Brown has previously told The Daily Sentinel that the park has received interest, but the 25-year lease is a cause for pause for some of the businesses.
Noyes believes this week's vote is of paramount importance to the future of the park.
"In my opinion, I don't think it will be successful without it. The 25-year lease is not enticing. It's too problematic to justify investment," he said.
If the ballot question does not pass, he said he will likely look at scaling back his project.
Another problem Noyes discovered shortly before moving was his inability to ship any goods he imports from overseas directly to Grand Junction at a new transloading facility in the city.
Thinking that he would be able to use a new transloading facility in Grand Junction, he has since learned that the railroads would not bring the type of container he uses into the area. The facility was spearheaded by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce as a way for local manufacturers to bring in their goods directly to Grand Junction rather than have them shipped via train to Salt Lake City or Denver and driven to the Grand Valley in a truck.
Noyes participated in the planning process for the facility after announcing his move, but said he never realized and was never told that the facility couldn't bring in his items. He's now shipping to Salt Lake City and bringing his items in on a truck. He estimates this will result in $250,000 to $410,000 in extra costs over a 10-year stretch. Transferring the containers to a rail car that could come to Grand Junction would be more expensive than taking them to Salt Lake City, Noyes said.
"It's frustrating," he said.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Diane Schwenke said they contacted the railroads when they learned of the issue and that the railroads will only take those type of ocean containers to major metropolitan areas.
She said the chamber had the assumption that the facility could bring in all types of containers, but Noyes' case is the only one like this so far. She said others are already using the facility and that it is successful.
Brown said that GJEP has given Noyes money to help cover the first two years of extra cost by not being able to use the transloading facility.
Schwenke said the chamber decided to offer Noyes three years of free membership and noted that Noyes agreed to move to Grand Junction prior to there being any finalized plans for the transloading facility.
"In light of the fact that he announced before we knew about the transloading, there was no sense that we erred," Schwenke said.
Noyes declined the membership.
But despite some of these issues, he still feels positive about the city of Grand Junction and GJEP and is excited for the potential of the Grand Valley.
"I'm still excited," he said. "The community is exciting and supportive. We just have to get through the last rounds of problems."