GJEP Announces Agenda, Speaker Lineup for 5th Annual Western Colorado Economic Summit

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado (September 13, 2021) – “What is our community vision for the Grand Valley when it emerges from economic distress?” That is the question the Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) plans to answer with the Grand Vision, a community-wide effort set to launch at the Western Colorado Economic Summit on September 30.

“By state standards, we have been ‘distressed’ for decades. But in the last couple of years, we have fared better than most counterparts in Colorado, if not the country. We expect that it won’t be long before we surpass the threshold from distressed to thriving community,” said Mike Sneddon, GJEP Chairman of the Board and President of SG Aerospace & Gas, a local manufacturer. “We want to hear from the people who live and work here what makes for a thriving community in their eyes.”

Sneddon and former GJEP Executive Director Robin Brown initially brought this question to the GJEP Board of Directors last month during its annual board retreat. Over 20 business executives and community leaders from across the valley joined together for a one-day session led by Shane Kinkennon, a certified master facilitator with decades of experience in leading executive teams through the planning process. The Board delved into a series of discussions and activities that centered around how to improve quality of life for Grand Valley residents, a key concept within GJEP’s mission.

Next, GJEP plans to open up the discussion to the full community with a survey that will explore into quality-of-life measures and priorities.

“GJEP already tracks a number of quality-of-life measures as defined within economic development – unemployment rates, cost of living, housing affordability, and so on. Those will continue to be important measures as we plan ahead, but we also want to set metrics around quality-of-life indicators that may be unique to our community, like access to public lands, location aesthetics, commute times, access to local government. You name it,” said Steve Jozefczyk, GJEP Deputy Director.

The survey will first launch to the attendees of WCES later this month before it is made available to the full community. GJEP will use the survey results as the foundation for the Grand Vision, a strategic plan to meet long-term goals set for the community by the community. The planning process is expected to take six months and will include several workshops with the GJEP board and key stakeholders, as well as additional community input. The process will be outlined and updated on gjep.org/grand-vision

Attendees of WCES can expect a rich agenda that will tackle many current quality of life issues for the western slope, including the sustainability of local production agriculture and the future of K-12 education. Chris Brown, Vice President of Policy & Research at the Common Sense Institute, will lead a panel discussion on Colorado’s Energy Future, a session coordinated by the Colorado Cleantech Coalition and West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association. There will be breakout sessions on several policy-related issues, such as: retail marijuana, wolf introduction, housing needs assessment, freight transportation and C-PACE.

Workforce recruitment and retention will be looked at from several different angles, as will the commercial and residential real estate market. Highlights for the latter include a keynote address from Dan Spiegel, Managing Director of Coldwell Banker Commercial, five-time title sponsor of WCES (alongside Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties).

“As a founding partner of the Economic Summit, we strive to bring a conference that not only brings community leaders together from across the Western Slope, but also opens discussion about how we can all contribute to the thoughtful growth of the entire region,” said Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties and Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties Chairman Todd Conklin. “As a regional leader in the real estate industry, Coldwell Banker is proud to work with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership to host this event.”

Coldwell Banker will also lead one of the more creative breakout sessions of WCES: Back to the Office – A Visual Journey Through the Changing Environment of the Office Space.

John Marshall, new President of Colorado Mesa University, will give the lunchtime keynote address. In addition, the luncheon will include GJEP’s annual update and award ceremony. The full agenda with session details can now be found on westcoeconomicsummit.com

WCES is made possible in large part thanks to its sponsors, including title sponsor Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties and Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties; gold sponsors Community Hospital and SCL Health/St. Mary’s Hospital; and silver sponsors FCI Constructors, Four Points Funding and Grand Valley Power. A select few sponsorship opportunities remain. For information, contact Nicole Allen at invest@gjep.org, or call 970.245.4332 ext. 6.

WCES takes place on Thursday, September 30, from 8:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the GJ Convention Center. Tickets are $75 for individual registration and $800 for table sponsorships. For tickets, visit westcoeconomicsummit.com – advanced online sales end on September 24.


About the Grand Junction Economic Partnership
The Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) works to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the Grand Junction area by supporting high-impact capital investment and job creation. GJEP is a single stop for businesses looking to relocate or expand in the cities of Grand Junction and Fruita, the Town of Palisade and surrounding communities of Colorado’s Grand Valley (Mesa County). Operating as a 501(c)3, GJEP offers free services that connect businesses with realtors, developers, workforce, local leadership and more. Visit www.gjep.org for more information.

About WCES
GJEP launched the Western Colorado Economic Summit, WCES, in 2016 as a forum for regional business leaders, policy makers and community leaders to come together to learn about and discuss the key topics impacting the western slope now and in the future. The event also serves as GJEP’s annual meeting and main fundraising event. Visit westcoeconomicsummit.com for more information and registration.

Media Contact:
Cilia Kohn
Grand Junction Economic Partnership
P: 720.272.1777
E: cilia@gjep.org