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Deadline for D.C. BLM employees to decide if they'll relocate to GJ

(KJCT)
Published: Dec. 12, 2019 at 9:32 PM MST
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Thursday was the deadline for staff at the BLM to tell the agency whether they'll relocate from the nation's capital to new posts here in Grand Junction.

That includes about 27 positions at the new headquarters here, according to the Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP).

The deadline affects nearly 200 other high-level agency employees.

It's all part of the Trump administration's decision to move bureau headquarters to the West, closer to the public land with 99% mostly here.

The move will disperse about 300 Washington-based employees across the west.

“The whole concept around having a headquarters location in our community for a federal agency, elevates our stature even on a national level,” says Diane Schwenke with the Chamber of Commerce.

GJEP says so far only a handful of employees will be coming here from the nation’s capital, with an estimate so far of six to eight people. That number could change after the deadline.

“I think that’s pretty normal. You have significant turnover when you move a headquarters; it’s what we deal with all the time. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the location they are moving to, it just has to do with people’s personal lives,” says Robin Brown with GJEP. Brown says that after talking to the Department of Interior, they provided early retirement packages for those out of D.C. that were close to retirement and that have lived in D.C. for a long time.

GJEP says they have played a large role in guiding these new employees to the area.

“So we help connect them to local brokers, we help them get all the information they need to put kids in schools and we also help partners and spouses find jobs,” says Brown.

The city’s economy isn’t expected to drastically shift, but the move could allow for more business opportunities according to the chamber.

“It gets us attention from folks who do business with the BLM, so they may take a closer look at us in terms of a potential for a branch location,” says Schwenke.

We also could be seeing more business travelers in the airport. Although airport personnel says there’s isn’t enough demand yet to have direct flights from D.C. to here.

“Our hotels and our restaurants and our air service. Air passengers will continue to increase as people come in to visit the headquarters for a federal agency,” says Schwenke.

But both the chamber and GJEP say only time will be able to tell.

“They know they’re going to have a loss of talent and staffing and I think that they are willing to do that because the reasons for moving the company are so important,” says Brown.

These new employees are said to be coming in waves, but they are all expected to be here by next summer.

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