Grand Junction, CO
Grand Junction—The Land of New Money, New Blood, and New Enterprise
Gone are the days where Grand Junction was once known as a dusty rest stop in the middle of a random Colorado desert. The city has expanded in terms of capital, new populations of young people, and a multitude of fun activities. Grand Junction is the place to set up shop and watch investments grow.
Cashing in on a lucrative opportunity. It’s wise to go where the money is going, and the money is going to Grand Junction. According to the Mesa County Economic Development, the Mesa County GDP data shows a 4.2 percent growth for 2017—the strongest rate since 2008. Unemployment is at a low 4 percent, which means a strong tax collection, and an industrious economy. The World Population Review supports this by reporting that the median income for households is $47,824, the median income for married families is $76,063, and the median income for non-families is $29,023. In other words, the citizens in Grand Junction have money to spend.
Go where the new generation is going. New people in Colorado are not just headed to Denver—new blood is going to Grand Junction. The World Population Review charted a stunning increase in population: in the year 2000, Grand Junction’s population was less than 30,000; in 2010, it was 58,000; and now, it is over 61,000. Also, 47.3 percent of the city is below age 44.
Established business owners have noticed these changes in Grand Junction. They have seen a lot of new people, and a lot of them are young. For example, The Colorado Sun reports David Foster, owner of Kiln coffee, as saying, “I see a lot of younger people coming here, and I get super excited about that.” He’s seen young realtors and lawyers coming in and out of his shop when he just thought of Grand Junction as a desert only two years prior.
Another reason for the increase in young people would probably be the appeal of Colorado Mesa University. This college has over 11,000 students now compared to the 1,000 students it had in 1961. Its amazing catalog of dozens of different programs include accounting, applied business, aviation technology, biological studies, chemistry, computer science, and many more.
Head to where businesses are relocating. Some businesses are finding opportunities in Grand Junction’s rapidly developing economy. As an example, The Colorado Sun says that Libby and Greg Olson ended up moving their marketing business, Growl Agency, to Grand Junction from Denver. They have also hired designers and interns from Colorado Mesa University. The couple even noted that they are busy with some kind of event every weekend.
Additionally, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership says that RockyMounts’ headquarters, which is a bike rack and lock brand, will be moving from Boulder to Grand Junction. Their president, Bobby Noyes, explains his reasoning: “There was a dynamic energy that was reminiscent of my early years launching this business. I saw an opportunity to be a part of a growing and vibrant community here in Grand Junction.”
This feeling is substantiated by GJEP’s executive director, Robin Brown. She says, “We are seeing more and more interest from businesses like RockyMounts. Companies are growing tired of metropolitan areas and their long commutes, high real estate costs, and congested neighborhoods. They want good business conditions without compromising on quality of life.”
Furthermore, businesses and individuals alike will love the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction. This is a large 23,000 square foot building, which offers customers a spacious resource for their events. Their home page says that it is “ideal for meetings, seminars, reunions, weddings, receptions, banquets, concerts, galas, and trade shows.” Rooms can be used for dining and dancing, and the center can accommodate over 2,000 people, making it the largest convention center between Denver and Salt Lake City.
The real estate market is doing extremely well. Things could not be going better for housing in Grand Junction. Realtors and builders agree that they can’t keep their inventory in stock to meet the demand. Sales have greatly increased, the housing market is prospering, and people are waiting less time to sell their property. The Grand Junction KKCO 11 news says that in 2017, the housing market hit the “largest proportional growth year over year for the first quarter since the mid 90's.”
There have been several measurable boons in this market in Grand Junction. First, there are reports of property being on the market for shorter periods of time—wait time has decreased from 123 to 86 days, which is essential in this field. Second, recent real estate trends suggest that housing sales have increased by almost 30 percent since 2016 in Mesa County. Third, the amount of foreclosures have decreased by about 40 percent, which is tremendous evidence of a wealthier society and economy.
A diverse group of people are involved in Grand Junction’s housing market success. General Manager for Senergy Builders, Darrin Carei, says, “First time home buyers, and downsizing seniors, and as well as people retiring from the eastern slope” are involved. He goes on to say that less lots are available, so the price of land is going up. Annette Miller, Senior Vice President for Heritage Title Company says, “You know we’ve got strong dollar volume, we’ve got strong sales, you know all the numbers have shown strengths, honestly, all of last year and now going into 2018.”
There’s fun stuff to do, including incredible outdoor activities. The business opportunities are what’s attracting new people, but the activities are what’s making them stay. The Colorado Sun mentions several enticing activities, and the first is the Riverfront project. Greg Caton, the City of Grand Junction Manager, pitched the Riverfront at las colonias Park idea as a Google-style campus, and this place is to be a mix of outdoor recreation and business and commercial spaces. Businesses will be blended with a climbing wall, a zipline across the river, a whitewater park, artwork, and plenty more.
The Powderhorn ski resort will be more popular than it has already become in the last few years. It has recently seen a huge jump in pass purchasers. Powderhorn’s general manager, Andy Daly, who also serves on the board of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, says that ski-pass sales have doubled over the last year, and about 60 percent of purchasers are new to Powderhorn. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports that Powderhorn entered into a long-term lease agreement with Pacific Group Resorts Inc., and that the resort also agreed with ZOMA Capital as an equity partner.
Another example would be Palisade Plunge—the alpine-to-desert 32-mile trail. It will link the top of the Grand Mesa to the town of Palisade, and it is certain to attract avid hikers and mountain bikers.
Visitors and new citizens alike will enjoy the many other activities available in Grand Mesa. Grand Mesa Adventures, located at Baron Lake, offers different options for the winter and summer. Winter activities include snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing tours. Summer activities include things like fishing, hiking, biking tours, boating, and all-terrain vehicles.
Grand Junction’s official website regarding their attractions confirms that there is plenty of stuff to do. Hiking, biking, rafting, fishing, and camping are common in places like the Colorado National Monument, the Grand Mesa, and more. If the outdoors is not anybody’s cup of tea, there are other options. For instance, in Downtown Grand Junction, visitors will enjoy the Avalon Theatre and the Museum of the West. There are also plenty of opportunities for live music, dance, and theater.
Go where the beer is going because the beer is bringing business. Beer is booming everywhere in Colorado, and that includes Grand Junction. Colorado Public Radio said that Jim Jeffryes, owner of Edgewater Brewery, saw potential 20 years ago when he bought land by the riverfront. Attracting investors was initially challenging because Grand Junction was not booming like it is now. Jeffryes took a risk in buying land that used to be surrounded by junkyards, but investors eventually came, and his business ended up being one of the first by the riverfront.
Downtown is trending with new projects. Money is pouring into downtown because investors realize its monumental potential. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel discloses that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) issued $15 million in bonds and spent $4 million in DDA funds to develop the las colonias business park and renovate Two Rivers Convention Center. Brandon Stam, executive director of the Downtown Grand Junction Partnership, says, “Those are signature projects for the downtown.” Additionally, the DDA also negotiated an agreement with REgeneration Development Strategies to create 36 market-rate townhomes.
Another project to look for would be the 91-room, four-story Home2 suites hotel on 654 Market Street in downtown, opening Spring of 2019. It’s a hotel that adopts 21st century technology. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel states that “the hotel will use new technology in its lighting to save energy, and about 60 percent of its carpet is made from recycled material.” Guests have access to multiple items and amenities: a jacuzzi, a pool, a barbecue area, an exercise room, a laundry area, mobile range tops if they want to cook, and dishwashers in each room. The general manager of the hotel, Bill Spychala, is optimistic about the need for more hotels due to Grand Junction’s growth.