The Colorado You Were Promised
5 Reasons to consider Grand Junction for your business move
In recent years, Colorado has topped most business rankings, including Forbes’ “Best States for Doing Business” and as the “No. 1 Economy” according to U.S. News & World Report. As a result, in-migration has exploded on the Front Range. Denver alone sees somewhere around 1,000 people moving in each month and the city’s population now exceeds 700,000. This is great news for Colorado’s economy, but less so for the quality of life of its citizens. “Colorado the Beautiful” now includes skylines full of crane trucks and the ride to the slopes is marred with traffic. Moreover, the cost of real estate is pricing many residents and businesses out of the state’s larger cities.
This explosive growth has been mostly focused on the Front Range. Look to the state’s Western Slope and you’ll see quite a different picture. With over 30 wineries and 10,000 miles of trails, Grand Junction, and its sister cities Fruita and Palisade, are best known as wine drinking and mountain biking destinations. With the Colorado National Monument as the backdrop and a milder climate than the rest of the state, it’s an easy, year-round weekend destination for those hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of the I-25 corridor.
But Grand Junction also has a thriving and diversified economy with unprecedented growth over the past few years in tech and outdoor industry manufacturing. Here are five reasons Grand Junction is a great place to locate your business:
1. GRAND JUNCTION WANTS YOUR BUSINESS
In western Colorado, there is room to grow and there are resources to support that growth. There is also a culture of collaboration that supports sustainable development and a comprehensive plan that makes sure growth is done in a smart way with the future in mind. The Rural Jump Start tax incentive is the most lucrative incentive in the state and allows new businesses to operate tax-free for up to eight years. It has enabled 13 new businesses to move to Grand Junction since 2016. A straightforward planning and permitting process that takes 90 days from application to approval also makes it easier for businesses to make a move.
2. WORKFORCE STABILIZATION
Quality of life means something a bit different in western Colorado. With housing prices half of what they are in Denver, residents spend far less of their income on housing, making Grand Junction the most affordable metropolitan area in Colorado.
Like sitting in traffic? Of course not. In Grand Junction residents spend 32 percent less time sitting in their cars than Front Range residents. That’s 32 percent more time to spend on skis, bikes, kayaks, trails or even the couch. A low cost of living and high quality of life means that Grand Junction businesses have happier employees that stay in their jobs longer, reducing the costs to business caused by employee turnover.
3. BIG CITY AMENITIES WITH SMALL TOWN CHARM
Grand Junction is bigger than you think. The Grand Junction area includes the town of Palisade to the east and the city of Fruita to the west and has a total population of 151,000. Add in the mountain and regional communities that come to town to do their shopping and get their healthcare and that population grows to 350,000. Home to Colorado Mesa University with an enrollment of 11,000 and the Grand Junction Regional Airport with 16 daily, direct flights and you’ve got the amenities of a big city with the charm and culture of a small, rural town. The location on I-70 halfway between Denver and Salt Lake City puts businesses within an easy drive of over 5 million people without the congestion and prices that come with big city living.
4. THERE'S WORKFORCE
A history of energy production means that Grand Junction has a highly skilled advanced manufacturing workforce supported by robust training programs that begin in the local schools and continue through Western Colorado Community College. Colorado Mesa University – the fastest growing university in the state – boasts programs in mechanical and electrical engineering, computer science and cybersecurity, as well as programs to support our largest employer: The health-care industry. As the only Work-Ready certified community in the state, Grand Junction understands the local workforce and its skill set in a way no other community can claim. The local workforce center offers unique training programs specific to the area’s jobs and industries, as well as helps local companies find the workforce they need to grow. There are a number of training and workforce incentives that offset the wages of new employees so that companies are able to grow quickly and efficiently.
5. IT'S AN OUTDOOR MECCA
Western Colorado has it all.
Water sports? Grand Junction is named for the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers and the City is in the midst of building a 140-acre riverfront park geared towards outdoor industry manufacturers, which will include a whitewater park and zipline over the river.
Mountain sports? Grand Junction sits at the base of the Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world and home to world-class Nordic skiing and Powderhorn Mountain Resort. Public Lands? Nearly 75 percent of the area is public land: BLM, National Forest and the stunning Colorado National Monument. Trails? Where to start? Mountain biking in Fruita. Trail running in Grand Junction. Hiking on the Mesa. Then there’s the Palisade Plunge, a 6,000-foot drop from the top of the Mesa into the town of Palisade spanning 33 miles. Currently under construction and scheduled for a 2020 completion, the Palisade Plunge will prove to be a destination for bikers from all over the world.
In short, Grand Junction offers all the benefits of a Colorado lifestyle at a more affordable cost – to your wallet and your well-being. It is the Colorado you were promised.
Robin Brown is the executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, the economic development organization for Mesa County, the cities of Grand Junction and Fruita and the town of Palisade.