via Dan West, The Daily Sentinel, October 5, 2021
A number of economic indicators showed Mesa County moving in a positive direction, Steve Jozefczyk, interim director of Grand Junction Economic Partnership, told listeners at a recent Western Colorado Economic Summit.
Jozefczyk, citing a quarterly report by Nathan Perry, an associate professor at Colorado Mesa University, said unemployment in August was down to 5.7% in the county.
He compared that number to 12% in April 2020, when strict COVID-19 business restrictions were put in place.
“By the end of 2020, our economy suffered alongside everyone else,” Jozefczyk said. “We saw negative job growth, negative (Gross Domestic Product) growth, our lodging tax revenue was down over 33%, but we also saw positives. There was an increase in building permits, our home values were up and our annual wages were up, too.”
Through the first three quarters of 2021, Jozefczyk said sales taxes for the city and county were up significantly, lodging tax is up, airport enplanements were up 70% year-over-year and building permits continued to grow.
“We’re only three-quarters of the way through 2021 and this year alone, this is my favorite part, our community jumped in the Milken Institute for the third straight year to number 57 best small city in the country,” Jozefczyk said.
Jozefczyk praised the work of partner agencies like Mesa County Public Health for enacting the variance protection program, which helped businesses stay open. He also acknowledged this year hasn’t all been good news for the community.
“Sure there have been some notable lows, too,” Jozefczyk said. “The new ultra low-cost airline Avelo came and went before most of us could find their website to buy a ticket. The Bureau of Land Management move hasn’t turned out to be what we expected, but then again, 10 years ago, would we ever imagine we’d be in this position right now?”
The Grand Valley has drawn more positive media attention this year, Jozefczyk said.
Also, major capital projects have been announced by local hospitals, and new businesses in the tech and outdoor recreation industries are moving to the area, he said.
“We are a community in transition,” Jozefczyk said. “We are reaching a pivotal point, so let’s decide together who or what we’re going to be next. Not the next Boulder or Denver or Austin or Silicon-something, but the next Grand Valley.”
To read the Grand Junction Economic Partnership annual report visit gjep.org/move-here/data-center.
Photo Credit: Steve Jozefczyk, GJEP Interim Executive Director photographed by Logan McLennan, 14KMedia