Why millennials are flocking to Grand Junction for career opportunities
The Western Slope city is shedding its image as a Shangri-La for shuffling seniors. Could it be that Grand Junction is now cool?
The Colorado Sun
Andrew Duran has lived in Taos, New Mexico, and Boulder. This well-tattooed 35-year-old has pedaled his bike around the world, spending loads of time in exotic places. Now, he has landed in a spot that has long been high on his geographic bucket list: Grand Junction.
Yes, stodgy Grand Junction. Longtime nickname: Grand Junktown. That conservative, red-as-red-can-be, Western Slope city near the Utah border. That Shangri-La for shuffling seniors. The place younger generations have long bailed out of, rather than flocked to.
“You hear a lot of people talking like that about Grand Junction,” Duran said. “But once you bring them out here, they see why it’s so great. People who like to play a lot recognize that this is where it’s at. This is Boulder 30 years ago.”
More localized demographic counts that pinpoint growth by age groups for Denver and other major metropolitan areas skip the Western Slope’s largest city: It isn’t large enough. Scroll through a geographic-ranking website such as Niche and you’ll find no reflection of change in Grand Junction, which sleeps at No. 169 in the “Best Places for Millennials” category — right behind the Eastern Plains agricultural bastion of Fort Morgan and trailing smaller rural communities such as Gunnison, Carbondale, Leadville and Yuma.
For the first time, more than half the 11,000 students at Colorado Mesa University — the fastest-growing university in the state — are coming from outside Mesa County. And millennials and Generation Xers are stepping up into civic- and business-leadership positions.
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Area chamber of commerce representatives from Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen gathered Thursday to hear from Colorado chamber and tourism officials on the “State of the State.”