West Slope Web site launched to propel business, tourism | PostIndependent.com

West Slope Web site launched to propel business, tourism

Garfield County’s economic development efforts are taking flight.

The county is part of a larger western Colorado effort to attract out of state industry through a new Web site that went on line last week.

The county’s presence on the Web site is aimed at attracting more businesses to the Garfield County Airport and surrounding area.

“Our general thinking was that if we can create more meaningful employment in the west end of the county, perhaps it will get cars off I-70 and Highway 82,” said Garfield County operations director Dale Hancock. “That way, people can live and work in the community.”

Hancock attended last week’s Western Colorado Economic Development Alliance Web site launching in Grand Junction. The alliance, which includes Garfield County and 12 other Western Slope governments and economic development groups, formed two years ago.

Angie Allen, an account executive for the Grand Junction based Larry Cobb and Associates, started work on the Web site 18 months ago. Allen said the Web site has more than 90 pages containing more than 300 pieces of data about Western Colorado.

“This will create economic development leads,” Allen said. “It’s to create top of mind awareness for out of state businesses.”

The Web site is located at http://www.westerncoloradobusiness.org.

Its home page includes a shaded map of western Colorado, explaining its proximity to metropolitan cities in the Southwest and featuring the “world famous” resorts of Aspen, Vail, Steamboat Springs and Telluride. It notes that Grand Junction is the 12th fastest growing metropolitan economy in the U.S.

Allen said now the Web site is up and running, the next step is advertise the site in ski resorts to direct business people to the site.

Allen said each entity pays $2,500 per year to be a member of the Western Colorado Economic Development Alliance.

Garfield County joined specifically to promote its airport, Hancock said. An airport master plan is in process, and upgrades in 2004 include a longer runway to accommodate larger jets.

Some companies that might find Garfield County attractive are directly related to the aviation industry, Hancock said. Other companies might locate in industrial and business parks developed between Rifle and the airport in recent years. Some business owners are expected to fly in and out of the Garfield County Airport in private planes.

“People who locate in an industrial park like to be within a half hour of the airport,” said Garfield County Airport Manager Brian Condie.

“They have to get from point A to point B as quick as they can,” he added.

Garfield County’s airport has no regularly scheduled passenger service. Condie said such general aviation airports appeal to private plane owners and charter fliers because security is less strict and fliers can board their aircraft more quickly.

At the Rifle airport, passengers and their friends can walk right out on the runway ramp without security clearance and baggage checks.

“We’re still a friendly place to come to,” Condie said.

More and more business owners are switching from commercial flights to private planes. The increase is reflected in business owners who buy shares in aircraft, much like the practice for time share vacation condominiums, Condie said.

“We’re already seeing more business flyers,” Condie said.

The Garfield County Airport has plenty of room for development around the facility, and at the airport itself.

“We have room for 100 hangars,” Condie said.

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