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.

Boulder SBDC Launches Entrepreneurship Program for Teens

Monday, May 16, 2016


On Saturday, June 25, the Boulder Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Boulder Public Library, in a new collaboration, are hosting a free interactive learning opportunity for teens interested in entrepreneurship. 

“I believe that some of the greatest leaders emerge when they are still young - before the world tells them what they can't do, and before the expectations of fitting into the adult world are forced upon them.  Teens have the most amazing dreams!” says the Introduction to Entrepreneurship for Teens facilitator, Erin Lewis. 

Lewis was the youngest person and first woman to run a major railroad depot in the US, has worked on international business development deals worth over $500 Million for GE, and has been active in the startup community here in Colorado for the past 5 years, and wants to share her experience and expertise with the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

Any teen interested in learning about entrepreneurship is encouraged to attend the event on June 25 from 10:00am until 4:00pm at the Boulder Public Library (lunch will be provided). Throughout the day, teens will hear stories from real life entrepreneurs about how they started their own business and discuss various paths the teens could take to start their own. Teens will work in teams throughout the day to walk through the process of manufacturing a product, creating plans, learning about product differentiation and market strategy with changing market conditions, and how to set a price for a product or service. 

In Lewis’ opinion, “I think teens are stuck between people that expect nothing of them, and people expect too much from them, but what they need more of is just exposure to ideas so they can chart their own destiny.  I've made more than my share of mistakes, and have come out the other end. Not having all the answers just means that you are brave enough to ask more questions.”

For more information and to register for this free event, click here


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.

National Small Business Week in Colorado

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


A new website has been launched in honor of Colorado Small Business Week!

This website has been launched in honor of this year's Small Business Week for the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC), along with several small businesses, community organizations and financial institutions.The website is www.coloradosmallbizweek.com. It will be available for people in Colorado to find all events, workshops, webinars, and celebrations that will occur during that week in local communities. If you would like to add an event to the website, one that supports or provides training for small businesses, fill out the comment section on the website and include all the event information.

"Small Business Week highlights the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout Colorado," said Fiona Arnold, Executive Director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. "With over 560,000 small businesses in Colorado and half of our workforce employed by small businesses, this week will celebrate their critical contributions with workshops, events and festivities to celebrate Colorado's entrepreneurial spirit."

Since 1963, the president of the United States has declared a National Small Business Week to highlight the impact of small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. This year the US Small Business Administration's National Small Business Week is May 1-7, 2016. 

Celebrate the week with Boulder SBDC by joining us for some workshops we are hosting!

Tuesday, May 3
2:00pm-4:00pm

Wednesday, May 4
5:30pm-7:30pm

Wednesday, May 4
6:00pm-8:00pm

SBIR Roundtable: Challenges of Getting Phase II and Commercialization
Thursday, May 5
8:00am-10:00am

You can join the conversation with the hashtags #ColoradoCollaborates and #DreamSmallBiz.





Colorado Small Business Week Winners Announced

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Image courtesy of the U.S. Small Business Administration

Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced this year’s Small Business Person of the Year winners from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All of the winners have been invited to attend ceremonies in Washington, D.C on May 1-2 where they will be awarded their individual awards along with recognition of the runners-up and the naming of the 2016 National Small Business Person of the Year.  Reed Howard Silberman, Founder and CEO of Denver-based Ink Monstr, is the 2015 Colorado Small Business Person of the Year winner.


In making the announcement, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said: “It is my distinct pleasure and honor to announce the 54 winners from across the U.S. and her territories.  These small business owners represent the best of the best and showcase daily their entrepreneurial spirit and what it takes to be successful in today’s evolving and competitive business environment.”


The Colorado Winners include:


1.     Colorado Small Business Person of the Year winner is Reed Howard Silberman, Founder and CEO of Denver-based Ink Monstr.  Ink Monstr is a custom print shop specializing in interior design, wall and window wraps, branding, and web design.

 2.     Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Excellence and Innovation Center Award. Our colleagues at the Southern Colorado SBDC, based in Pueblo, are the winner of this award.  The center, and its director Caroline Trani, have played a vital role in helping entrepreneurs across Southern Colorado gain access to business training and counseling services.  The Southern Colorado SBDC was also named the Region VIII winner of this award.


3.     8(a) Graduate award of the Year Award. Richard Lewis, President and CEO, of Denver-based RTL Networks, Inc. RTL Networks, Inc. is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SDVOSB) company focused on maximizing customer technology systems and processes in order to meet immediate needs and long-term objectives. RTL Networks, Inc. was selected for this award because of his overall qualifications and expertise of their management, recognition of their special achievements and exceptional past performance record, their cost performance, innovative services and their economic engagement of disadvantaged communities.


 4.     Region VIII Administrator’s Small Business Advocacy Award.  Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and the Office of Economic Development, are the winners of this year’s award.  The mayor, and Office of Economic Development, have both played critical roles in promoting small business development with the establishment of the Commons on Champa, and their continued collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration on multiple programs and initiatives.

Congratulations to all of this year's winners!


This year, Denver was selected to host a national Small Business Week event on May 4.  SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet will be in Denver to participate in the day’s events. In the morning the SBA will host a Celebrating Women’s Business Forum at the Federal Reserve Bank Denver Branch office.  Following the women’s event, an awards celebration will be held at the History Colorado Museum where each of the Colorado Small Business Week winners will receive their awards; four new businesses will be inducted into the Colorado Small Business Wall of Fame; and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Office of Economic Development, will receive the Regional Administrator’s Small Business Advocacy Award. Various events will be held across Colorado celebrating small business week.


Each year since 1963, the president has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week.  National Small Business Week is set as the first week in May, and this year the dates are May 1-7 with national events planned in Washington, D.C., New York City, Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix and San Jose and Oakland, California.


In Boulder County, during National Small Business Week, we at the Boulder SBDC currently have a couple of workshops scheduled:

Wednesday,  May 4, 5:30 - 7:30 PM: Boot Camp de Planificación de Negocios Parte 1

We hope to see you that week!

THRIVE Conference February 27, 2016

Thursday, March 03, 2016


On Saturday, February 27, 2016, Boulder SBDC had the pleasure of helping coordinate and participate in the first bilingual THRIVE Conference at Front Range Community College in Longmont.  

The conference was aimed toward helping Boulder County residents with low to moderate incomes build assets. Topics included Homeownership, Social Action, Money Skills, Older Adults, Education, Business, and Health. The goal of the conference was to help make connections for a brighter future. Through workshops, interactive lunch discussions, and a resource fair, attendees set “Make It Happen” goals to take the next step in building a stronger future for themselves, their families and our community. 

We were able to offer two business-related workshops in Spanish and English. One included a panel of small business owners who talked through the challenges and successes they experienced starting their own business, resources that helped them, and advice for people just starting or thinking about starting a business.  Attendees asked lots of great questions and even gave some advice to others in the room from their own experiences. During the Spanish version of the panel presentation, participants were eager to learn from our Assistant Director, Mark Gittes, about importing from other countries, such as Mexico. Everyone seemed to gain something from the discussions. Thank you to Rocio Perez, CEO of Inventiva Consulting, Betty Artes of Casa Alvarez Foods and Mark Gittes, Assistant Director for the Boulder SBDC for sharing such great advice with aspiring entrepreneurs!

The second workshop we offered was How to Start & Correctly Operate a Small Business with SBDC Consultant Jesse Esparza. Jesse covered topics such as determining your target market and finding your competition as well as other key elements to starting a business. He also shared helpful resources for getting started. After the workshop, one attendee exclaimed, "This was exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for all of the great information!"

Other workshop topics throughout the day included financial empowerment (understanding the power of savings), how to pay medical bills on a limited income, healthy and local eating, social action (how to create positive social change), how to enroll in a university, powerful steps toward owning a home, and basics of Medicare. 

View photos of the event by clicking here!  

Thank you to the organizations that were a part of the steering committee!


·         Jamie Brandess, Marketing and Events Manager, Boulder Small Business Development Center

·         Rebecca Chavez, Director, Admission & Outreach, Front Range Community College

·         Nino Gallo, PIE/IDA Program Coordinator, Boulder County Community Action Programs

·         Cynthia Garcia, Bilingual Admission and Outreach Representative, Front Range Community College

·   Eliberto Mendoza, Boulder County Community Action Programs 

·         Katie Pague, Boulder County Housing & Financial Counseling Coordinator

·         Rosemary Thompson, PIE/IDA Coordinator, Foothills United Way

·         Lisa Widdekind, Emergency Management Coordinator, Boulder County Public Health

·         Katie Wade, Respite & Companion Volunteer Program Coordinator, Boulder County Area Aging Services

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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