Award nominations shine spotlight on tech sector

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Grand Valley entrepreneurs hail their nominations for statewide awards for shining a welcome spotlight not only on their efforts, but also broader efforts to nurture the local technology sector.

“We’re trying to make Grand Junction a technology hub, and there’s no reason we can’t do it,” said Page Tucker, president and chief executive officer of ProStar Geocorp.

Brian Watson, co-founder of Launch West CO, said recognition from the nominations could help in attracting other entrepreneurs and technology firms to the region. “I think it’s a really big deal.”

Tucker is among the finalists for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award presented by the Colorado Technology Association. Watson and Josh Hudnall, co-founders of Launch West CO, are among the finalists for the Project of the Year Award.

The association is scheduled to present its annual Apex Awards at ceremony set for Nov. 9 in Denver. Now in its 16th year, the awards program recognizes achievements in the technology industry in Colorado.

Tucker founded ProStar Geocorp. The Grand Junction-based company combines geographic information systems and data to offer software and services to the pipeline and utility industries. The software and services help customers manage infrastructure whether it’s displaying, collecting, storing or using information about the location of pipelines, fiber optic cables or other facilities.

ProStar Geocorp was among the first companies in Colorado to participate in the Rural Jump-Start Program offering state and local tax incentives. The company also received a $250,000 grant awarded through the Advanced Industries Accelerator Program.

Tucker has high hopes for substantial growth for his company, but also said he hopes ProStar Geocorp can serve as a catalyst in promoting the growth of the technology sector in the Grand Valley. The firm offers internships to students from Colorado Mesa University, on-the-job training opportunities through the Mesa County Workforce Center and has joined in a new effort to provide apprenticeships to high school students.

Watson and Hudnall founded Launch West CO to form a community of engineers, software developers, website designers and other entrepreneurs and raise awareness of the talent available locally. The organization now has more than 500 members.

Watson and Hudnall also have been involved in efforts to open the Factory, a coworking space in downtown Grand Junction. The Factory will offer space for people to work along with high-speed Internet access and video conferencing equipment. Memberships start at $99 a month.

Watson said the award nominations add to the growing recognition the region offers a good place to start and operate technology businesses. “It’s really great to see the good things being done on the Western Slope.”