This article originally ran as sponsored content in ColoradoBiz’s newsletter and on on July 30:

Colorado’s Grand Valley (also known as Mesa County, population 153,000) has the lowest COVID-19 numbers of any metropolitan area in the state. And not just by a little. As of the writing of this article, the county has reported a total of 227 positive cases – that puts the positivity percentage under 2%. The low presence of the devastating virus is amplifying the appeal of Colorado’s Grand Valley to businesses looking to relocate or expand in new areas. But, as recent transplants will attest, the key reasons they have chosen the Grand Valley had little to do with COVID-19. Here are five predominant reasons businesses have chosen to move to Colorado’s Grand Valley.

A disaster-free zone

Community leaders have long touted the Grand Valley as a disaster-free zone. Per recorded history, the region is free from wildfires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. COVID-19 was the first natural disaster to ever shut down the economy, except that it really didn’t; manufacturers have stayed open, as have day care facilities. Many industries have continued to operate in a safe way keeping people employed, while also protecting the most vulnerable.

When COVID-19 numbers became stagnant, Mesa County was the first to open in the state. And while COVID-19 cases have risen, the positivity percentage remains well below critical concern. That is why the Governor has granted the Valley several variances to his Safer-at-Home Order, allowing businesses and residents to get back to a new kind of normal before most of the country.

Social distancing is the norm

Grand Valley residents didn’t know our lifestyle had a name until COVID-19, but social distancing is how we live. 75% of our lands are public, providing us the space and immediate access to the outdoors to recreate and get outside while allowing plenty of space between people. There are also numerous activities to keep us occupied – and at a safe distance.

Grand Junction, the main city, is named for the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers; and the newly developed river district has opened up the riverfront for water sports, fishing, and more. We sit at the base of the Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world and home to world-class Nordic skiing and incredible hiking trails, as well as Powderhorn Mountain Resort, where snow sports give way for mountain-biking in the summer. There’s also world-famous mountain biking in Fruita, trail running in Grand Junction, and 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 2021 completion, the Palisade Plunge is in our backyard.

We have workforce

Between Grand Junction, the Town of Palisade to the east and the City of Fruita to the west, the Grand Valley offers a workforce that is 75,000 strong. A history of energy production means that we have a highly skilled advanced manufacturing workforce supported by robust training programs that begin in our local elementary schools and continue through Western Colorado Community College. Colorado Mesa University – one of the fastest-growing universities in the country (per pre-COVID data), with 11,000 in enrollment – boasts programs in mechanical and electrical engineering, computer science and cybersecurity, as well as programs to support our largest employer, the healthcare industry.

As the only Work-Ready Certified community in the state, we understand our workforce and their skillset in a way no other community can claim. We create unique training programs specific to the jobs and industries that exist in the Grand Valley as well as help our local companies find the workforce they need to grow. We have several training and workforce incentives that offset the wages of new employees so that companies are able to grow quickly and efficiently.

We support your growth

In the Grand Valley, wide open spaces provide businesses room to grow and we have the resources to support that growth. We also have a culture of collaboration that supports sustainable development and a comprehensive plan that makes sure that growth is done in a smart way for the future.  We have brought 18 businesses into the Rural-Jump Start Zone tax credit program, which is the most lucrative incentive in the state and allows new businesses to operate tax-free for up to 8 years. We recognize that time means money, which is why our straight-forward planning and permitting process takes 90 days from application to approval.

You can compete on a global scale

Extensive broadband throughout the City of Grand Junction enable remote workers as well as global companies to continue to operate despite the slowdown in travel. We are home to Grand Junction Regional Airport with 18 daily, direct flights (pre-COVID), and our location on I-70, halfway between Denver and Salt Lake City, puts companies within an easy drive of over 5 million people without the congestion and prices that come with big-city living.

In short, Colorado’s Grand Valley is a safe choice – now – and for future success.