Grand Enterprise Initiative: Good economic harbingers raise bigger worry |

Grand Enterprise Initiative: Good economic harbingers raise bigger worry

Patrick Brower
Grand Enterprise Initiative

What is that nagging feeling I have when I read about how well the Colorado and national economies are doing?

Even the local, Grand County economy is doing well.

But still, there’s that nagging feeling of worry and even doubt.

A headline in the Denver Post a week ago zeroed in on prospects for the Colorado economy. “State economy keeps improving,” stated the business section headline.

Both the Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and a senior economist and faculty director at the Leeds Business Research Division at the University of Colorado are noting the optimistic numbers in a new report.

The report states that Colorado’s gross domestic product rate has returned to prerecession levels, the unemployment rate has dropped and the labor force grew by almost 2 percent. Grand County’s unemployment rate also keeps dropping.

Nationally, unemployment numbers are the best they’ve been since before the pandemic. It took a while, but it appears people in the U.S. are getting back to work.

But then there’s that worry and doubt.

I worry that COVID is still a real factor when it comes to our economy, both in the public sector and the private sector. In the public sector rancor continues, largely on partisan lines, over government “overreach” in pushing mask and vaccine mandates. This stymies genuinely worthwhile public efforts to tame the COVID pandemic here in Colorado.

In the private sector, COVID still scares employees who may be exposed and hurts businesses who may need to require masks and / or vaccines to protect employees. Colorado is now in the midst of a COVID hospitalization surge. This does not help our economy in health care and out there on main street. COVID just won’t simply “go away.”

Then there’s the odd conundrum wherein there’s money pouring into the economy but many still struggle. Here’s what secretary of State Jena Griswold said about that: “Recovery has been uneven across industries, areas of the state and ethnic communities. Too many Coloradoans are still struggling to afford housing, child care and health care to to pay monthly bills.”

Yes, paying for housing is always an issue but the real problem here is imply finding housing. I know I sound like a broken record here but housing and workforce housing solutions need to be put on the front burner with a true sense of urgency. It is critical right now for almost all of the business sectors in Grand County, including (and perhaps especially) government.

The main stream press keeps screaming “inflation” until we are becoming immune to its meaning. What’s missing in this is the emphasis that should be placed on the fact that much, if not most, of the inflation is being driven by gasoline and natural gas prices being high. Sadly, my guess is that they are going to get higher.

So there you have it. Non-renewable fossil fuels, which the world needs to start to avoid when feasible, are not only hurting our climate but also our pocketbooks. These fuels pose a real existential threat but also an economic threat. Which reminds me of the opinion of a leading renewable energy advocate who has studied closely the relationship between climate change and fossil fuels.

He thinks that $4 and $5 a gallon gas would be the best thing that could ever happen to the development and expansion of renewable energy. Such high prices, he posits, would use the forces of the open market to essentially force consumers to the lower-cost and more atmospherically friendly renewable energy sources.

It would somehow be poetically just if the Middle Eastern petrol states, Russia and our home-grown corporate oil titans would let their greed price themselves right out of the market and relevance.

Despite these hiccups on the road to economic recovery, I must say it’s better to be figuring out how to handle the pains of growth and expansion when compared to the angst of enduring economic decline.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He is also the author of “KILLDOZER: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage.” He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at

Patrick Brower, Grand Enterprise Initiative

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