Opening Doors Blog

Boulder SBDC Receives a Grant from JPMorgan Chase

Monday, September 12, 2016
The Boulder Small Business Development Center was recently awarded a $60,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase in support of our Path to Entrepreneurship (P2e) Program, which will offer practical education programs and technical assistance to low-to-moderate income (LMI) individuals to help start new businesses or grow existing businesses. The program is designed to assist underserved populations to progress to the next level of entrepreneurial success.
  
Even though Boulder is generally known for high tech entrepreneurship and as being a high-net worth community, 14% of the city’s population is below the poverty level of $23,550 for a family of 4.* The efforts of the P2e Program are designed to directly help LMI residents establish financial stability through business ownership. Their success will not only enrich their own lives, but also benefit Boulder’s economy and community as a whole.
 
Business ownership can be a path out of poverty and into a solid financial future for many LMI individuals. However, barriers such as lack of education and experience, lack of exposure to business ownership as a viable career option (and a lack of confidence in their own success), language barriers, lack of awareness of resources and lack of trust in organizations that can provide support often block the path to success for these individuals.

The P2e Program will provide outreach, workshops, educational programs and technical assistance that will help LMI individuals reach their potential as business owners. Thanks to the financial support of JPMorgan Chase, the Boulder SBDC will now be able to continue and expand the program.

The program will include Bilingual Business Bootcamp series, Latino Business Mentor Roundtable series, How to Start a Restaurant Series, business basics workshops and one-on-one business assistance. Through this program, the Boulder SBDC will assist new and developing businesses and train new business owners by providing workshops and resources to LMI individuals in Boulder and the surrounding areas. 


*Source: The Community Foundation of Boulder County 2015 Trends Report; Colorado State Demography Office; 2013 American Community Survey

New State website celebrates companies that have chosen Colorado

Monday, August 01, 2016
The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) today launched a new website that celebrates the companies that have chosen to do business in the state. At the same time, the site provides the needed tools and resources for executives who are considering moving to Colorado and local job creators who are growing and retaining businesses in their communities.

"The momentum of the state's competitiveness has been fueled by a vibrant small business ecosystem, highly skilled workforce, and the creation of a comprehensive economic development strategy fueled by the Colorado Blueprint," said Fiona Arnold, executive director of OEDIT. "I'm thrilled that we now have a platform that leverages our tools and resources and focuses on storytelling to feature the value proposition of Colorado as a place to do business."

Since 2013, more than 111 companies have announced expansions or relocations in the state bringing in more than 27,076 jobs. These projects have supported net new job creation in Colorado's urban and rural communities across diverse industries of small and large firms. 

While national rankings continue to list Colorado in the top for living and doing business, OEDIT wanted a channel where they could provide more in-depth insights than just a list to showcase why being in Colorado is good for business. 

"Before we began the process of developing a new website, we conducted a survey of business executives both in and out of state to learn about their impressions of Colorado and where there might be opportunities for our marketing efforts," said Liz Cahill, chief marketing officer for OEDIT. "We learned that more than half of the respondents had positive feelings associated with the state including confidence in the business climate, emboldened by a smart workforce, and inspired by our location. Our issue was that our website didn't communicate any of these optimistic outlooks."

At the heart and soul of the website are stories from executives of Colorado companies discussing why they choose to do business in the state; whether it's the ability to tap into an invigorated workforce, partner with innovative executives, collaborate with a business-friendly government, or take advantage of the Rocky Mountains. 

One of those executives was Becky Yoder, CFO at Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC. 

"It was important for me to share the story of how we found success in Colorado, because I wanted to help inspire others, especially international firms that are looking to have a U.S. presence, on the benefits of collaborating with related technology firms who are oftentimes right down the road," Yoder said. "Partnerships and collaboration in this expansive Colorado aerospace community are key to fulfilling our customers' missions. We would be hard pressed to find that anywhere else."

The website features an initial set of success stories, photos and videos from Colorado companies across various industries including Surrey Satellite, Panasonic, High Noon, Boa and Ball Aerospace. In total, more than 60 Colorado companies and organizations contributed to the new website.

"There's something special about the people who choose Colorado. These are the people who are tackling some of the nation's most critical issues, and they are doing it together because they want to better their industry and our economy," Cahill said. "The fact that these executives took time out of their busy schedules to share their story or source a photo is a testament to their passion and drive for ensuring Colorado's success."

Cahill hopes that more Colorado companies will be inspired to use this platform as a vehicle to tell their story and is currently seeking submissions indefinitely.

For more information on doing business in Colorado or to submit your company's story for consideration visit www.choosecolorado.com.

Applications being accepted for Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Programs

Thursday, July 07, 2016
The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade is accepting applications for the first grant cycle of the Advanced Industries Accelerator grant programs for fiscal year 2017. Online applications are being accepted at www.advancecolorado.com/aiprograms for Proof of Concept grants and Early-Stage Capital & Retention grants. Applications are due August 31, 2016.

The Advanced Industries Accelerator Programs promote growth and sustainability in Colorado's advanced industries by helping drive innovation, accelerating commercialization, encouraging public-private partnerships, increasing access to early stage capital and creating a strong ecosystem that increases the state's global competitiveness. 

Colorado's advanced industries are: Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Bioscience, Electronics, Energy and Natural Resources, Infrastructure Engineering, and Technology and Information. 

Proof of Concept grants are open to Colorado research universities, federal labs located in Colorado, and other labs with valid technology transfer offices. These grants are for pre-commercialization research and commercialization preparation. Grants up to $150,000 will be awarded. 

Early Stage Capital and Retention grants fund companies commercializing innovative technologies to create viable products that meet a market need and can be created or manufactured in Colorado and exported globally. Grants up to $250,000 will be awarded. 

For more information about the Advanced Industries Accelerator Programs, including upcoming information sessions, guidelines and grant cycles, please visit www.advancecolorado.com/aiprograms.

SBA Launches 3rd Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition to Award $3.95 Million for Small Business Startups

Thursday, May 12, 2016
For the third year, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is launching a Growth Accelerator Fund competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models to compete for monetary prizes of $50,000 each, totaling $3.95 million.  The application period is from May 2-June 3 and information about the application process can be found at: www.sba.gov/accelerators or www.challenge.gov

The announcement about the fund competition was made during National Small Business Week. 

“As we celebrate National Small Business Week this week, it is only fitting that we launch our third annual Growth Accelerator Fund competition to empower more of America’s small businesses,” said Mark Walsh, Associate Administrator for the Office of Investment and Innovation.  “Accelerators provide valuable resources to potential startups: a physical infrastructure to work in their infancy, mentoring, business-plan assistance, networking, opportunities to obtain venture capital, and introductions to potential customers, partners and suppliers—all critical elements to ensuring that small businesses flourish and succeed.  Last year’s competition was so successful, we’ve added more federal partners including our very own Office of Native American Affairs and Office of Veterans Business Development to help bring more Native-American-owned, veteran-owned, women-owned and minority-owned small businesses into the fold.”


New to this year’s competition, SBA is partnering with several other federal agencies -- National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Education  (DoED) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- to provide additional prizes to accelerators that assist entrepreneurs with submitting proposals for the Small Business Innovation (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation (OII), with support from the Office of International Trade (OIT), is also partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank to provide prizes to U.S. accelerators that assist the African descendant start-up community in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Special consideration will be given to these accelerator models which support women-owned or minority-owned small businesses.  


Similar to last year’s competition, several panels containing expert judges from the private and public sector with collective experience in early stage investing, entrepreneurship, academia, start-ups and economic development will select the winners.  The competition includes accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared tinker-spaces or other models.  The panel will give particular attention to applicants that fill geographic gaps in the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystem space.


Through this competition, the SBA is looking to support the development of accelerators and their support of startups in parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of access to capital (i.e., venture capital and other investors).


In addition, the SBA is also seeking accelerators headed by women and those who support them or other underrepresented groups, 44 percent of last year’s accelerator winners were run by women and 41 percent were classified as underrepresented groups. 


Special consideration will be given to manufacturing accelerator models and models which support the White House Power Initiative during this year’s competition, because they are critical to job growth and strengthening the nation’s economy.

For more information on last year’s competition, please read the Report to the Congress of the United States on Q1 metrics and results from our first batch of winners. 


Please click here for the Growth Accelerator Fund Fact Sheet and specifics on how to apply and the timeline for 2016’s competition.  For questions or comments, please contact accelerators@sba.gov.

Colorado Small Business Development Center announces winners of the 2015 LEADING EDGE Business Plan Business Plan Competition and Awards Ceremony

Tuesday, March 01, 2016
The Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, held the annual LEADING EDGE Business Plan Competition and Awards Ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion on Thursday. The organization awarded the top businesses plans from across the state in the start-up, existing and creative business plan categories. Winners were:

Creative Business Plan of the Year sponsored by Colorado Creative Industries: Chris Fisher, StillCompany.com, an online image printing business focused on enabling general consumers and small businesses with the ability to customize and print their images for the purpose of wall art décor

Startup Business Plan of the Year sponsored by Colorado Lending Source: Steve & Kim Duty, Cheese+Provisions, a cut-to-order cheese shop with an emphasis on American farmstand cheeses

Existing Business Plan of the Year sponsored by ACCION: John Bridenbaugh, Altitude Paddleboards, a family-owned stand up paddleboarding company located in Littleton stocked with high quality exposy and inflatable boards, fixed and adjustable standup boards, and accessories


The Colorado LEADING EDGE program offers strategic planning courses through the SBDC network for start-up and existing businesses throughout the state. The courses offer comprehensive training to small business owners, providing them with a better understanding the aspects necessary to successfully manage their business. The course consists of 10-12 training workshops and requires each participant to attend one-on-one business consulting sessions and complete a business plan. 
 
In 2015, through the assistance of the SBDC, graduates from the LEADING EDGE program created and/or retained 608 jobs, started 29 businesses, obtained over $1.6 million in loans, and were awarded over $3.5 million in contracts. This economic impact would not be possible without the continued support provided by the SBDC community, sponsors, partners, consultants, and volunteers. 

In addition to the graduates and business plan awardees, the Colorado SBDC Network recognized the Consultant of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Sponsor of the Year:

Consultant of the Year: Ron O’Herron, Pikes Peak SBDC

Volunteer of the Year: Alexis Lee, Southern Colorado SBDC

 Sponsor of the Year: Andrea Amonick, City of Aurora (host of the Aurora-South Metro Denver SBDC)
 
The event would not be possible without the support of generous LEADING EDGE sponsors. Food was provided in part by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. Beverages were provided by Left Hand Brewing, Tivoli Brewing, Red Leg Brewing, and Wild Women Wine. Cash awards for the top business plans were provided by Colorado Creative Industries, ACCION, and Colorado Lending Source. 

For more information about the Leading Edge program or the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network, visit www.coloradosbdc.org or call 303-592-5920.


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