Certek Heating Solutions is lending one of its proprietary heat machines to Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley, a homeless shelter in Grand Junction, providing much-needed relief for one of the most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the latest in a string of forward-looking moves by the manufacturer, which was approved for the Rural Jump-Start Tax Credit in March.

When the U.S. began implementing stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines earlier this year, the country’s homeless population quickly emerged as a high-risk group for contracting and spreading the new coronavirus. Locally, major homeless shelters met with Mesa County Public Health officials to prepare for a likely surge in cases and brainstorm how to literally stretch their spaces to accommodate more people in a safe manner.

For Homeward Bound, a congregate shelter that serves more than 1,000 homeless in Colorado’s Grand Valley each year, one solution was to add a portable canopy tent in its parking lot. The canopy would allow the shelter to add more sleeping spots and separate symptomatic individuals from the rest of its population. However, a canopy does little against the elements.

“How are you going to make it comfortable?” asked Dominic Jones, Director of U.S. Operations at Certek, in a call last month to Homeward Bound’s Executive Director Greg Moore. In the conversation that ensued, Jones offered to provide a Certek heat machine rent-free for use in the canopy (local business Taylor Fence Company also stepped in to provide free fencing around the structure).

While the community has been fortunate to stave off a surge in coronavirus cases, – Mesa County has only ha 53 positive cases to date – the Certek machine solved a key pain point in the overarching plan to manage potentially sick people in need of shelter. It currently stands at the ready on Homeward Bound’s premises on North Avenue.

Certek, which primarily serves the oil & gas industry, has quietly been stepping up operations to move from a “cold-weather business” into a year-round enterprise. In its sister-facility in Canada, Certek has been experimenting with a new business model that utilizes the company’s heating capabilities for disinfection, a potential gamechanger in the fight against the coronavirus. If successful, the company will bring the process stateside later this year.

Despite a decrease in demand, Certek has also found a way to continue to serve the energy industry. Instead of using the heat machines in the extraction process, Certek is able to focus its efforts in helping clients that are working ‘midstream’ in order to transport product that’s already been extracted.

Most exciting for Colorado’s Grand Valley, however, is Certek’s recent acceptance into the Jump-Start Tax Credit program.

“We are headquartered in Grand Junction but typically our work is done outside of the region and the state,” said Jones. “With Jump-Start, our unique equipment will be made right here in Grand Junction, by local labor and with mostly local supplies.”

Certek plans to use the tax incentive to expand with a new, local manufacturing division that will produce Kodiaks, Certek’s most versatile heating unit. Certek will support the expansion by making a significant (amount confidential) capital investment for the new division and hiring seven new employees over the next three years.

“This is exactly the kind of positive news we need right now,” said Steve Jozefczyk, Deputy Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, who helped Certek with the Jump-Start application. “Not only is Certek able to stay in business through the current crisis, but they are expanding and injecting new revenue into the local economy.”

Certek tentatively plans to launch the new manufacturing division this fall.

About Certek Heating Solutions
Certek™ Heat Machine has multiple branches in Canada and the United States. With over 15 years’ experience in the portable heating business Certek™ has become a leader in the field for innovative alternatives to conventional heating methods used in today’s most common industries, including energy and construction. https://www.certek.ca/

About Homeward Bound
HomewardBound operates as an independent non-profit and is the only year-round homeless shelter within a 200-mile radius of Grand Junction. The shelter provides temporary housing for up to 120 individuals per night, and assists more than 3,000 individuals annually through its three successful transitional programs, as well as collaborations with local organizations on a number of projects to address winter housing issues and substance abuse issues. https://homewardboundgv.org/

About the Grand Junction Economic Partnership
The Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) works to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in Colorado’s Grand Valley by supporting high-impact capital investment and job creation. Operating as a 501(c)3, GJEP administers incentive programs, such as the Rural Jump-Start Tax Credit, and offers services free of charge to organizations interested in relocation or expansion in the cities of Grand Junction and Fruita, the town of Palisade and surrounding communities of Mesa County. Visit www.gjep.org for more information and specific resources to support businesses with COVID-19 response.