McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Chasing the silver lining, again
In my continuing quest to look on the bright side, to find the silver lining, I guess I’d say two upcoming major construction projects in Rifle look to help many local companies and families.
As you can read in today’s Citizen Telegram, the Grand River Hospital District (Grand River Health is its marketing, or brand, name) is preparing to start a two-phase, $18 million expansion project at the hospital in Rifle. The reasons for the project are explained in the article; basically, they come down to the need for more space (after more than doubling the number of physicians on staff in two years) and input from community members about what they’d like to see Grand River offer health care-wise.
But the fact that the contractor has used up to 80 percent local subcontractors in past projects for the district bodes well for area construction-related companies and workers. We all know home construction has been dead for the last four or five years, at least. So for all the carpenters, electricians, welders, etc., who have managed to survive the Great Recession to this point, they may have something to hang at least the rim of their hats on for a couple years.
The second major project – if and when it finally gets going – is the City of Rifle’s $25 million water treatment plant. As you should know from last week’s Citizen Telegram, the city ran into some serious concerns when the two bids they received from general contractors were $8 million and $11 million higher than the city expected. Quite a chunk of change to make up, right?
But one way or another, sooner or later, the city will get the project going – the current two aging, outdated water plants can’t keep functioning and meet tougher treatment standards much longer – and we can expect there will be a comparable number of local subcontractors and workers employed for around two years there, too.
These two projects by themselves won’t turn the local economy around, but you can expect some local businesses will see an up-tick in activity, when the projects get underway. Likewise city sales tax revenue.
There’s your silver lining.
I also want to make another note of the unveiling and opening of the New Ute Events Center. If projections prove to be true, the local economy will get a boost from the performances and gatherings held at the facility. Over the long term, and again if the center draws the crowds the city and backers hope to see, it could prove to be a solid boost to the economy.
Still, what’s missing from the local picture is commercial development. That probably won’t return until natural gas prices make drilling an attractive option for the nation’s oil and gas giants. That doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon.
So the rest of us will continue to muddle along, working long and hard to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. Some of us won’t make it; we’ll move on to somewhere that offers more choices and is in a better place economically.
But some of us who stick around may do so because of projects like Grand River’s expansion and Rifle’s water plant and events center. In part, they’re efforts to continue to help make the Rifle community a place where people can live and raise a family.
Yes, they all involved tax money in one way or another. But for my money, it sounds like money well spent.
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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