Rifle receives good economic development news
Rifle heard several economic development announcements recently at the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce State of the Community luncheon.
The first, and more immediate development, is the coming arrival of Tequila’s Mexican Restaurant to Rifle Commons in south Rifle.
The restaurant, which has a location in Glenwood Springs and others elsewhere in the state, is moving into the roughly 3,000 square-foot space next to Rent-A-Center. After the space opened up about six months ago, the management team had hoped to fill the space with a restaurant, said Dawn Hunt, commercial property manager.
The Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp. (RREDC) had been working with Tequila’s for a little more than two years on bringing a location to western Garfield County. Once Hunt and the RREDC connected, the pieces started falling into place.
“It seemed like a perfect match,” said Mel Kent, manager of the RREDC.
Hunt concurred, “We wouldn’t have been able to complete the project without the (RREDC) …”
Hunt said the team is hoping for a May opening — ideally by May 5, the Cinco de Mayo holiday.
The announcement of Tequila’s new location by Aron Diaz drew applause from the audience at the chamber event.
Diaz followed that news with an update on efforts to bring a major international manufacturing company to western Garfield County — which would create 30 to 40 new jobs, he said. Using a conservative estimate, Diaz said that number added with the ancillary jobs created could amount to a total of 90 or 120 jobs.
Since the talks are ongoing, RREDC cannot name the manufacturer, but the discussion is moving toward the partner level, which Kent described as, “OK, we really want to do this, it’s a win-win, here are the steps that need to be accomplished.”
Currently, discussions on a possible location are focused in the area between Rifle and Parachute. Like most manufacturing jobs, continued education will likely be necessary, although the extent is unknown.
“With new technologies constantly being developed it’s pretty much continual education in manufacturing,” Kent said.
To that point, the presence of Colorado Mountain College in the region has factored favorably in the discussion with the manufacturer, he added. That next step will be bringing entities like CMC to the table.
The process is heading in a positive direction, and Kent hopes to see some real developments by June.
Landing Tequila’s and the discussion with the potential manufacturer both highlight an important reality in economic development: It takes time, Kent said.
“These projects take a lot of time, two to three years from beginning to end,” he stated.
While there is generally more movement in the beginning of the year, when developers are eager to start and finish projects, both developments point to increasing interest in western Garfield County.
“There’s a lot of interest in this area,” Kent said.
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