Construction, real estate fuel Garfield economy |

Construction, real estate fuel Garfield economy

Nearly 25 percent of the 22,000 workers in Garfield County are employed in the construction or real estate industry.

Approximately 18 percent of the jobs in Garfield County are related to tourism.

As for jobs in the future, it’s unlikely they will be produced in biotechnology fields, but growth is possible in software development and publishing.

Those are a few of the statistics and conclusions included in a state-funded economic development report released Tuesday, titled “Colorado’s Economic Opportunities: Today, Tomorrow and the Future.”

The report looks at economic strengths and weaknesses in each of Colorado’s 64 counties, and was compiled by the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business.

Garfield County and its neighbors, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties, account for 24 percent of Colorado’s total land area, but only 4 percent of the state’s population.

“Per capita income is below the state average in every county in the region, with the exception of Routt,” the report says.

Growth in this region is possible as the natural-gas rich Piceance Basin northwest of Rifle is further developed. As the region and its scenic beauty attracts newcomers and second-home owners, growth in basic health care, financial and telecom services throughout the region can be expected, the report says.

Garfield County ranks second in the region, behind Mesa County, in the total number of economic development assets listed in the report. Garfield County’s assets include Interstate 70, Colorado Mountain College, and the Garfield County Airport.

The airport’s importance is no surprise to Dale Hancock, operations director for Garfield County. “The airport is what we are hanging our hat on for economic development,” Hancock said.

Garfield County is working to upgrade the airport runway by 2005 to accommodate larger, business aircraft, which in turn will attract more businesses and more jobs.

“The airport already has a $30 million impact on Garfield County,” Hancock said. “It can be more with the runway upgrades.”

Other snapshots from the report include:

– 61 percent of the workers in Garfield County are employed by small companies with just one to four employees.

– 37 percent of the workers earn $30,000 to $60,000.

– 11 percent of the workers earn $100,000 or more.

Health care and tourism are Garfield County’s biggest areas for growth, the report concludes.

To read the study online, go to and click on the “Leeds School Conducts Statewide Economic Analysis” link.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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