February 20, 2018 – There are hundreds of non-profits in the Grand Valley across a wide spectrum of industries. Many work in healthcare and human services, while others focus on conservation, education, the environment or the arts or are religious in nature. Most people are used to the idea of thinking about non-profits in terms of the intangible contributions and needs they met that would otherwise be unmet by private industry or government. Many non-profits also improve the quality of life for a community through successfully fulfilling their mission.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership is one of many non-profits that don’t necessarily fit the mold of saving the environment or feeding the hungry, but one that is certainly dedicated and working toward improving the quality of life in the Grand Valley through increased economic opportunities.

The Community Impact Council (CIC) was formed several years ago to be the collective voice of local area non-profits. It includes 68 members, and offers training, networking, mentoring and advocacy. Nathan Perry, professor of business with Colorado Mesa University, conducted a survey measuring the economic impact of CIC members.

Although only 31 small to medium-sized non-profits responded to the survey, the results are eye-opening, especially to the general public that recognizes the intangible services and needs fulfilled, but hasn’t ever counted non-profits to form a piece of the local economic pie.

“It’s impressive, the type of economic contribution we bring to Mesa County,” said Joe Neuhof with Colorado Canyons Association, who is also on the CIC board of directors.

In specific numbers, non-profits support more than 2,100 jobs with combined wages of more than $77 million. Although local residents support many non-profits, about 25 percent of their total revenues come from sources outside the Grand Valley. That outside money coming into the community adds up to more than $67 million. The total gross economic impact of the surveyed CIC members is more than $250 million.

“The numbers are staggering,” said Doug Sorter, vice-president of business operations with STRiVE, which supports individuals and families with developmental disabilities. “The CMU study shows the impact; it’s been an enlightening experience.”

Prior to joining STRiVE five years ago, Sorter had worked as an executive for private industry, and hadn’t considered non-profits as part of the creators of economic prosperity. Since joining STRiVE, however, Sorter has developed a new respect for the business practices, stewardship and economic contributions of non-profits. In the case of STRiVE, the organization has a $19 million budget, with only about one percent of the total budget coming from donations. It also has 380 employees and supports 1,400 individuals and their families.

One of the biggest industries impacted by local non-profits is real estate, which makes sense given that every organization needs a place to call home. While some non-profits have a tiny office with perhaps two paid employees and a host of volunteers, others, like Hilltop Community Resources, are one of the larger employers in town, with more than two dozen locations in Grand Junction where the organization meets the needs of children, adults and seniors through a variety of facilities and programs.

The idea that non-profits can be an economic driver in a community is a new one, but it is long overdue. The intangibles they offer are truly immeasurable, while the measurable dollars they pour into local coffers are significant.

CIC members who responded to the survey request from Dr. Perry include, but are not limited to, Ariel Clinical Services, Colorado Canyons Association, Colorado Riverfront Commission, Community Food Bank, Community Hospital, Hilltop Community Resources, Karis, Inc., Marillac Clinic, Mesa Land Trust, Mind Springs Health/West Springs Hospital, Museums of Western Colorado, Nami Western Slope, Roice-Hurst Humane Society, Western Colorado Congress and the Western Slope Center for Children.


~ from The Daily Sentinel GJEP Economic Focus, February 18, 2018