Rifle Economy on the Rise
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- After some tough economic times, one Western Slope city is making a comeback.
Officials with the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corporation say the economy is headed in an upward direction. "We're really excited to see employers hiring, our businesses are experiencing an increase in the sales tax revenue and we really feel like we're on an upward climb," said Julie Bjurstrom, manager of RREDC.
With the boom and bust cycle, Gary Miller, who's owned Miller's Dry Goods for 31 years, says he's always finding his store's niche to fit the community's needs. "We're just a little more cautious, not only individually, but in the industry that we deal with. It's been a little bit of a downturn, but really, I'd consider it more stable," said Miller.
Officials with the RREDC say they're changing their ways to make the town more tourist friendly. They are trying to make the city more diverse. "We started the EDC six years ago in order to diversify the economy so we could get out of the boom and bust cycles, but we're still very energy dependent," said Michael Langhorne, president of RREDC.
RREDC officials say they've seen major changes as a result of marketing the downtown more. "We've really seen some strong growth in the economy, Rifle and the entire Garfield County region," said Bjurstrom.
Bjurstrom says the more people who get on the board, the better the outcome. "You can sit back and complain about how things are going, or you can directly impact it by getting involved and making sure you're supporting the local business base," she said.
One of Rifle's most recent additions is the Brenden Theatre. "It's a big deal. We don't have a movie theater for about an hour in both directions, so now that we have one here, we can get people from Parachute and Silt that don't want to travel 30 to 40 extra minutes, and can now travel five to seven minutes down the road," said Randy Marquez, assistant manager of the Rifle Brenden Theatre.
Whether it's shopping downtown or spending time outdoors, many people say they enjoy all that Rifle has to offer. "I mostly stick to the parks, outdoor activities, the Centennial Park with the water fountains, and the farmers market," said Brandy Legg, Rifle resident. Another resident, spends most of her time downtown and at the new theater. "We love the new theater. It's been a great addition to our downtown area and our community. We come quite often," said Denise Walker, a Rifle resident.
Officials say their next project in the works is a $20 million recreation center. Officials say they've been planning it for the past six years and have a lot of the blueprints layed out.