Development plan helping grow local business, tourism

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- It's been almost two years since the Mesa County Development Plan was put into place, a plan aimed at making the county a desirable place to visit, live and open a business.

Monday, nearly a dozen of the economic development partners met to see how effective the plan has been so far.

The development plan has already helped invest more than $3 million into the community, the money invested with three main goals in mind: making Mesa County an energy epicenter, supporting the growth of existing business and elevating the community profile.

Monday, development partners went over some of their accomplishments, like funding CMU’s unconventional fuel center, along with putting in place a first responder team, a team that goes to businesses facing challenges, or even those looking to expand, and helps them make the appropriate changes.

The partners said updating our community profile and making it a tourist spot was also a feature of the last two years, especially helping to put Fruita on the map as one of the elite destinations in the nation to go biking.

"Bike Magazine was embedded in Fruita for a while, to really showcase mountain biking, then recognizing Palisade, so we're really working to make sure that people understand that there's more to the valley than one of these things, and you really do have the opportunity to have it all," said Kelly Flenniken, the executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Development partners said they've already helped three businesses expand, but couldn't tell us which ones, saying it is confidential.

Palisade officials said a shooting complex could also be on its way to the town, but right now is only at the proposal level.

"One of the things we're really working heavy on now is a regional shooting complex that would allow sport shooting and competitive shooting for both firearms and archery," Palisade town administrator Richard Sales said.

The complex would go where the Cameo power plant is now, Excel energy decommissioning the plant, while Snowcap coal is finishing reclamation and mining.

The town of Palisade along with the Department of Parks and Wildlife have submitted a proposal to both companies looking to buy the land, but are still waiting to hear from Excel. Hunting education, competitive shoots and law enforcement training could all be housed in the new facility.

The fruit and wine byway, a 27- mile loop along the Palisade area, is also helping draw visitors to their area.

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