Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce hosts annual Economic Outlook Update

The keynote speaker presented factors that both regionally and statewide have contributed to our economic recovery.
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 8:11 PM MST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2021 at 8:29 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Economic Outlook Update on Monday at the Colorado Mesa University Ballroom. The keynote speaker presented factors that both regionally and statewide have contributed to Mesa County’s economic recovery. Experts say over the past year the county has recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic aftermath of 2020 quite nicely, regarding both the return of the workforce and job creation. But economically the county is growing slowly compared to the rest of the state as a whole.

The economic update began by recognizing six local businesses who have expanded and created jobs over the past year. One business being the Christi Reece Group, a real estate company in Grand Junction. CEO Christi Reece explains why small businesses like hers are so crucial to communities like Mesa County.

“One of the things that makes it different is that we started a fund that we give back to the community so instead of paying a national franchise, we take 2% of all our revenue and give it back to the community to local non profits,” said Reece.

In the keynote speech, Dr. Richard Wobbekind says the most important industries to the Western Slope have been recognized as retail trade, tourism, agriculture, and natural resources and mining.

“I think agriculture’s gonna have a stronger year than it had last year,” said Wobbekind. “We think tourism remains strong, particularly summer tourism, car tourism. Natural resources and mining sector has recovered in 2021 and we think 2022 will also be a good year.”

Dr. Wobbekind goes on to say Mesa County in particular has strong numbers in construction, which is promising going into next year. However, he also mentions the areas Western Colorado is weak in.

“Sectors that are growing fastest in the state are relatively less present in the Mesa County area,” said Wobbekind. “In particular professional and business services, high tech research ‘R&D’ has had tremendous growth along the front range and that is a relatively small sector here and has not shown job growth.”

Dr. Wobbekind also says consumer confidence has slowed in relation to inflation.

“Small businesses are actually very pessimistic nationwide right now,” said Wobbekind. “Part of the reason is tremendous price increases in the supply chain and not being able to pass those on.”

Economists say one reason why they think Mesa County in particular is experiencing a slower comeback as far as a return to the workforce is that jobs weren’t hit as hard in 2020 compared to the rest of the state.

Although some small business industries are recovering slower, others are thriving throughout the state.

“We’ve had an incredible year at the Christi Reece group,” said Reece. “Not only has the market itself continued to appreciate, but we have grown, adding agents and staff. And we intend to do the same in 2022 and I think the real estate market will continue to stay strong.”

Economists also say there are more job openings than employed people throughout the state. So the next question they’re asking is, how to get more people to participate in the workforce.

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