PALISADE, Colo. -- Governor John Hickenlooper rode into Grand Junction on Sunday to talk economic development with local officials.
The Governor is in the Grand Valley to push his “16 in 2016” initiative with the aim of completing 16 bike trails across the state this year. Two of the trails are right here in Mesa County.
"Having the Governor here is huge,” said Kristi Pollard, the Executive Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. “The Governor has called out Mesa County as an anchor for the state of Colorado and for the outdoor industry.”
The Western Slope provides nearly a third of outdoor industry revenue state-wide, according to the Outdoor Recreation Coalition.
The best way to see bikes trails is on two wheels, so the Governor hopped on a bike on Sunday to explore Grand Valley trails.
"We wanted to expose him to what some of these trails look like and some of the benefits of completing these projects," Pollard explained.
"It’s overdue. I have an amazing sense of urgency, especially when you look at Palisade," said Governor John Hickenlooper during his time the Grand Valley.
The Governor is looking to complete the Palisade Plunge -- a mountain bike trail from the top of the Grand Mesa into town -- in a timely matter to help bring the economy to its highest potential.
The Governor says that millennials could spark the economy here on the Western Slope, comparing outdoor recreation industry to the craft beer industry.
"If you're a magnet for millennials, you're going to see more jobs. I guarantee it," Gov. Hickenlooper said.
He says that if the outdoor recreation opportunities in the valley are nurtured, the businesses will come.
"There is nothing Democratic or Republican about this,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “This is looking at what are going to be the big industries of the future and saying I want to get there. I want to be out of head of it and I want my children and my grandchildren to participate in these new economies.”