Our Versatile Valley: Diversifying Our Present and Future
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo.- Carlson Vineyards owner, Parker Carlson can vividly remember constantly being questioned about his aspiring business.
"A lot of people were just like, 'Well, what are they doing? We'll keep an eye on them,'" says Carlson.
But in the span of 10 years, questions became answers for the wine industry.
"The quality has gone up. We're becoming discovered where maybe 15 years ago, you'd hear, 'oh, I didn't know there were wineries in Colorado.' You hardly ever hear that anymore. The future looks really bright," Carlson adds.
But the wine industry isn't the only Grand Valley asset being discovered.
Since the Grand Junction Visitor Convention Bureau branded the community with Colorado Wine Country, tourism continues to uptick.
"I look at our Google analytics every month. They're showing us indications that they (tourists) want to come to Grand Junction and that is up about 10 percent," says Mistalynn Meyerann, the marketing coordinator for the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau.
But national recognition isn't the only goal the tourism industry hopes to attain in the future.
"Grand Junction is participating in part of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy. That is a new program set by the United States. Specifically we're targeting the U.K., Germany, and other markets. This is a huge impact to the economy," explains Meyerann.
Another huge impact for the Grand Valley is Colorado Mesa University.
What first started out as a Junior College back in 1925, has transformed into an institution offering a plethora of programs at the master's, bachelor's, associate, and certificate levels.
"If you're not going forward, you're going backwards. Our objective is to always keep moving. We've gotta be looking at the next thing and building on our successes," explains Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster.
And one of those steps for success is going digital.
"Some of that is doing a better job of what we do online, and really being high quality, and being known for having high quality online," adds Foster.
But online isn't the only aspect C.M.U. hopes to continue to improve on.
"We're gonna break ground on a new classroom building. That will be a 72,000 square foot building. It'll help us stay on the current edge of the best classroom space and that's important," explains Foster.
Although the Grand Valley has seen its booms and busts, the energy industry is pertinent to the area's economic well being in moving forward.
"Drilling in Western Colorado goes back over 100 years, and today, we view our opportunities as greater than ever," says David Ludlam, the executive director for Western Slope of Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Currently, Western Colorado relies heavily on directional drilling.
"Its the end all, be all, to natural gas production. Without it we wouldn't be drilling any wells in Western Colorado," explains Ludlam.
Each well creates hundreds of jobs directly and indirectly.
But, a new drilling method is becoming even more promising for Colorado's oil and gas industry.
"The past and present was defined by directional drilling. We believe that horizontal drilling represents part of the future of what's going to make our area stronger. It's a new formation that previously we haven't really targeted in Western Colorado. There's going be more rigs, more activity, and more economic activity for our local businesses," comments Ludlam.
But whether it be drilling or education, these aspects make our versatile valley what it is today.
"We are a jewel in the crown of this community," adds Foster.