The Grand Valley is a unique place of connection and commitment to the community. Growl has been part of Grand Junction for nearly two years and has been embraced by many organizations and found friendships with numerous local businesses. With a team including current and former Colorado Mesa University Mavericks, Growl is committed to giving back to and collaborating with the university and its students. Thus, as an agency, we pride ourselves on community, connection and conversation – the basis of establishing Growl Connex.

What even is Growl Connex?

Since joining the Grand Valley community and supporting CMU, Growl has learned there are numerous opportunities for students and business development; however, these possibilities aren’t always publicized or promoted. Under the assumption that there are no jobs in Grand Junction, CMU students are increasingly leaving to seek positions in larger cities. Our team saw this as a chance to better connect the business community through conversations with each other and soon-to-be grads.

Last Night @ Growl Connex

The latest Growl Connex ~ April 25, 2019 ~ connected CMU juniors and seniors with local business leaders at Carlson Vineyards Downtown Tasting Room. The night included networking, a business-marketing panel, and celebrating Carlson Vineyard’s new tasting room.



Conversation Highlights

Our panel consisted of Grand Valley marketing and business leaders, including:

Caitlyn Love, Downtown GJ Marketing & Communications Specialist
Mike Mansheim, Colorado Mesa University Executive Director of Marketing
Mara Hardy, GJEP Business Development Manager

Growl in the Community

Grand Junction is filled with community-oriented businesses who are willing and wanting to help students.

  • Many local businesses and organizations are willing to engage and help students gain valuable experience.
  • The GJ Chamber supports students in finding internships, shadowing opportunities, and participating in workshops.
  • Mesa County Workforce Center helps coordinate internships and job opportunities. Students can find local positions at
  • Colorado Mesa University helps connect businesses and organizations to students through Career Services and

Growl is passionate about connection, conversation, and community. Growl plans to host four Connex events per year, the next happening this summer. Join our email list to receive updates about future Growl Connex events.


Meet the Panel

Mara Hardy, GJEP Business Development Manager

At the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Mara supports both local businesses and companies that want to relocate to the Grand Valley. Her primary focus is on the tech, aerospace, and healthcare industries. Mara relocated from Denver where she had started her own consulting company, Inland Planning, to help communities implement their initiatives and plans.

Before consulting, Mara worked at the Colorado Water Conservation Board. There, she directed TAP-IN Colorado – a program to connect the entrepreneurial and water sectors, oversaw the public outreach, education, and engagement efforts, and managed marketing and communications. Previously, Mara worked at the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. She received her Master of Urban and Regional Planning at CU Denver and her B.A. in Environmental Studies at CU Boulder.

Growing up in Colorado, Mara spent time exploring the outdoors and developing an appetite for adventure. So, the Grand Valley is the perfect place for her to call home.


Mike Mansheim, Colorado Mesa University Executive Director of Marketing

At Colorado Mesa University, Mike serves as the senior marketing officer reporting to the President. He leads a team responsible for the university’s integrated communications strategy, including paid, earned, shared/social and owned media. Mansheim’s focus is on optimizing messaging strategies and investments to grow brand awareness, public perception, enrollment, revenue, and to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders. His team also leads marketing efforts for CMU’s two-year division, Western Colorado Community College. During his 14-year tenure at CMU, the university has grown enrollment more than 50%, rebranded and renamed, and from 2006-2016 was the fifth fastest growing baccalaureate university in the nation.

Mansheim’s career in higher education marketing started more than twenty years ago and included positions at the University of Miami and New York University, as well as working in the private sector as a web designer, graphic artist, and digital marketing specialist.

Mansheim is active in his community, serving as vice president for the board of directors of SummitWest Care, a non-profit home health care organization; board member for the Mesa County Business Education Foundation; a member of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s CMU20000 committee; advisor to Colorado Mesa University’s Genders and Sexualities Alliance student organization. He previously dedicated time as a board member for the Western Colorado AIDS Project.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in international finance and marketing at the University of

Miami and his master’s degree in communications management from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.


Caitlyn Love, Downtown GJ Marketing & Communications Specialist

Caitlyn discovered Grand Junction after moving to the area in 2012 to attend Colorado Mesa University. She graduated in 2014 with a Bachelors in Business Administration and began working for Downtown as the Event Coordinator in January of 2016, and was promoted to the Marketing & Communications Specialist in May of 2017.

She’s a big fan of branding and design and enjoys being creative with all the advertisements and promotions that Downtown puts out. She’s passionate about connecting business owners and other organizations within the local community to one another. Caitlyn is known for her bubbly personality, terrible pranks, the inability to keep plants alive, and if you get to know her, you’ll probably hear one of her many road-trip stories or see her hiking and snapping photos around the area.

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