When you think of a tech scene, you might imagine imposing gray skyscrapers full of identical offices. Inside those offices, you likely imagine fluorescently-lit rooms where employees haven’t had fresh air all day, surrounded by a concrete jungle. For the ever-growing tech industry, this is definitely not an ideal way to work. And Grand Junction, Colorado is looking to change that vision.
Located in the Grand Valley nearly 300 miles west of Denver, Grand Junction is known for its many outdoor destinations, such as the Horsethief Bench Trail and the Grand Mesa National Forest. In addition to its hiking and biking trails, one of the main draws of the area is its many gorgeous sights, such as the Colorado National Monument and Mt. Garfield. These natural settings are a burnt out developer’s dream and are likely among the reasons Grand Junction is becoming an unlikely tech hub.
One story that shows off what makes Grand Junction so attractive to tech personalities is that of Erica Witherspoon. The founder and CEO of Omnifica, Witherspoon had an interesting journey to Grand Junction. After working in Seattle for companies such as Microsoft and Nintendo, she found herself in need of a change. In a video for the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Witherspoon said, “I went on a very intentional search to find a small community with quick access to the outdoors with a laid-back lifestyle … I ended up coming through the Grand Valley … I found everything I was looking for, and I just love the tight-knit community here.”
There are myriad reasons Grand Junction is drawing tech companies, aside from its beautiful sights and outdoor activities. For instance, the Jump-Start Tax Credit Program, which offers a tax holiday to tech companies, has also drawn more members of the industry to the city. The program, which was originally launched in Mesa County, CO, looks to continue expanding the number of promising tech companies in the Grand Junction area. Adaptive Towers, a company that produces communications towers for quicker cellular and internet connections in remote areas, is one example, joining the area’s tax credit program in May of 2017.
Another sign that Grand Junction is home to a quickly growing tech community is its recent attempts to become an official ‘Smart City,’ improving efficiency through advanced technology. This will be done in a collaboration among Grand Junction, the state of Colorado, and ProStar Geocorp, yet another innovative tech company happy to call Grand Junction its home.
Grand Junction is drawing in members of the tech community for a very good reason. In addition to its tech company-friendly initiatives, the city’s beautiful sights and the massive amount of outdoor activities make it an ideal spot for developers that value their time offline as much as their work online. Even though the city is located approximately 1,000 miles away from Silicon Valley, the two areas have more similarities than you think.
Featured Image of Colorado Mesa University Courtesy of Ken Redding
By Louie Fox