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Happy National SBDC Day!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


To celebrate the collective impact and success the SBDC has had across the state and in local communities each year, Colorado is participating in the first national SBDC Day on March 22. SBDC Day is a national movement to help share the small business success stories and notable impact SBDCs have fostered in communities nationwide.

The day will include a Governor's Proclamation proclaiming March 22, 2017 as Small Business Development Day. The Proclamation will be read by Stephanie Copeland, executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), on the steps of the Capitol.

Business has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, and the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network has been there throughout. Since 1987, Colorado's SBDC- the only statewide program of its kind -has helped aspiring and emerging small business owners achieve the American dream of entrepreneurship. Help share in the excitement by using #COSBDC #SBDCDay today!

Colorado Creates Grant Guidelines and Application Now Available

Monday, March 13, 2017
DENVER - March 1, 2017 - Guidelines are now available for Colorado Creative Industries' Colorado Creates grant program. The purpose of Colorado Creates, CCI's largest grant program, is to provide critical financial support that helps nonprofit cultural organizations and communities produce and present arts and cultural activities, bringing jobs to their communities and enhancing the quality of life. 
 
"These grants support the arts organizations and artists who are critical to Colorado's economy," said Margaret Hunt, Director of Colorado Creative Industries. "By investing in this sector's vitality, the state builds its reputation as a premier creative hub and reaps significant economic returns."
 
For the current fiscal year, a total of 180 grants were awarded in 47 counties across the state totaling $1.3M, an increase from the 162 grants awarded the prior year. The agency's grants benefit both small and large communities, and 47% of grant funds were awarded in towns and cities located outside the Denver metro area.
 
Colorado Creates has a two-year grant funding period for successful applicants. Organizations awarded in last year's cycle are eligible to submit a Mid-Cycle Report instead of a full application. Those reports are due by 4p.m. on Thurs., April 20, 2017. View a list of organizations eligible for the second year funding here.


All other applicants will complete the full Colorado Creates application, which is due by 4p.m. on Thurs., June 1, 2017 for programs and activities occurring during the two-year period between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2019. Eligible applicants can review the guidelines and application instructions for the Colorado Creates full application here.


ELIGIBILITY

Grant applicants for Colorado Creates must be Colorado 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organizations or independent components of Colorado public colleges or universities, or government agencies. Applicants must have been providing public arts or cultural heritage programs in Colorado for at least three years by the application deadline and have a minimum cash operating budget of $25,000.  

GRANT AMOUNTS & REVIEW CRITERIA

Colorado Creates awards range from $4,000 to $10,000 and are awarded annually on a competitive basis. Proposals are reviewed by panels based on three review criteria:• Artistic excellence and merit of proposed activities
Community involvement and benefit from proposed activities
Implementation capacity, such as effective planning, management, and budgeting of the organization and the project.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Applicants seeking assistance are advised to contact Creative Industries Division counselors well in advance of the application deadline. Prior to contacting a grant counselor, applicants should read the guidelines thoroughly. Both returning and first-time grant applicants will be using an online grant system, and must be registered and approved for eligibility prior to starting the application process. Staff may be contacted at 303.892.3840 or at OEDIT_CreativeIndustries@state.co.us. 

APPLICATION TOOLS

Creative Industries staff has developed a resource handbook to assist with the application process. Online tutorials and staff assistance will also be available. Updates will be posted on www.coloradocreativeindustries.org.  
About Colorado Creative Industries
Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado's state arts agency, is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). Established to capitalize on the immense potential for our creative sector to enhance economic growth in Colorado, the mission of Colorado Creative Industries is to promote, support and expand the creative industries to drive Colorado's economy, grow jobs and enhance our quality of life.

Front Range Community College Hosts SBDC 30 Years!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017
The Colorado SBDC Network offers free and low-cost resources to small business owners throughout the state. Each SBDC center has a local host, who is also a significant financial supporter for that center. 2017 marks 30 years since Front Range Community College has hosted both the Larimer and North Metro Denver SBDCs. 

On March 7, 2017, the City of Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell recognized this contribution with a “Thank You” proclamation, presented to Dr. Jean Runyon, Vice President of the Front Range Community College Larimer Campus.


Thank you, Front Range Community College, for your support and prioritizing small business education in Northern Colorado!




2016 Larimer SBDC Annual Report

Tuesday, March 07, 2017
 

Mike O'Connell

Larimer SBDC Director      
2016 was a breakout year for the Larimer SBDC in terms of strategic partner relationships, consulting and economic impact metrics, and local awareness of our center. 

Early 2016 saw us coordinating and integrating with the restructured Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC).We are now working seamlessly together, with the SBDC acting as a key "content provider" to the LBDC. The LBDC team has worked very hard, and brought a lot of value to the Loveland small business community. During 2016, we added consulting availability in Berthoud and Wellington, so that entrepreneurs can access SBDC services at any municipality in Larimer County. 

In November, we worked with the East Colorado SBDC and the Colorado SBDC lead center to execute the inaugural Northern Colorado Women's Small Business Conference, held at the Embassy Suites in Loveland, which was a huge success with over 350 attendees. We also continue to manage the "Recovery Colorado" disaster recovery program, with the support of the Estes Park Economic Development Corporation. This grant program has provided over $2.3M to 59 Estes Valley small businesses. 

Almost all of our 2016 metrics are record high numbers for our center. We consulted with 640 clients over nearly 3,500 consulting hours, more than double our 2013 client count, and almost triple our 2013 consulting hours. We also conducted 100 trainings/workshops, attended by over 1,000 entrepreneurs. 

The plan for 2017 is to " .. do it the same, but better .. ". We will be strongly promoting three of our higher-end programs to support growing existing businesses. We will support the Fort Collins and Loveland Start Up weeks in February and April. We will again execute the Women's Small Business Conference in November 2017. Most importantly, 2017 marks the 30th year that Front Range Community College (FRCC) has hosted and significantly sponsored the North Metro Denver and Larimer SBDC centers, and we will be conducting a major campaign throughout 2017 to say a huge "Thank You" to FRCC for their support of Northern Colorado entrepreneurs. 

We have a great well-connected team that makes it all of the above happen. Terri Donovan-Keirns manages the hundreds of consulting sessions and numerous classes with exceptional competence and thoroughness. Our administrator and FRCC graduate Kat Rico has really enhanced the "face" of both the North Metro Denver and Larimer through her marketing and social media skills. Our consulting network is strong, committed, and engaged, and the best its ever been, in my opinion. I also have the privilege of being the Co-Chair of the Larimer County Workforce Development Board (WDB) this year, which supports the critical and extensive work done by the Larimer County Workforce Center. 

2016 was a rewarding year, and I look forward to working with all of you in 2017! 

Mike O'Connell
Larimer SBDC Director

Read the Full Larimer SBDC 2016 Annual Report

7 Incredible Facts About Women Owned Businesses

Thursday, February 23, 2017
Information provided by: CreditLoan

There are a dozen different reasons why women prefer to work in an environment that is surrounded by fellow women. For one, there are more benefits and leaves given to them in a company that understands that employees or spouses get sick. In a patriarchal environment, the set up for taking time off is so rigid and strict that women often have to go in when they are sick. The work schedule is not flexible at all, and there is usually no option to work from home on days when the employee is needed at home.

As a result, women who are unable to find nannies or suitable child care for their kids are forced to resign from work or find another job with a better arrangement - often below their skillset or totally out of their comfort zones.

When women create companies and establish businesses, they take these things to mind and adapt a completely different set up in the company. For example, they allow female employees to bring their kids to work, which has a day care center with qualified staff. The infants can be breastfed or visited during breaks since they are just a few rooms away from their mothers.

In case a child is ill and needs supervision, the parents can file for work from home and continue dispensing their duties and tasks even while not physically present at the office. This is important because it means that their job security is not threatened by them not being around, and they still receive pay while working at home.

We've prepared an infographic discussing incredible facts about women owned businesses to continue to inspire women who want to make a difference in the world. We hope it inspires you too!


Is Your Point of Sale System Secure and Effective?

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Retail Industry: Is Your Point of Sale System Secure and Effective?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

If you’re a retail business in 2017, chances are you’ve got some sort of electronic Point of Sale (POS) system. It might be stationary in your brick and mortar location, you may be an online retailer with a virtual POS, and if you do events you’ve probably got a mobile POS. This technology is great, but it comes with a unique set of challenges related to not only operation, but security. We have an important question for you: Is your POS system secure and effective?

          How do you know?

Without getting a degree in cybersecurity, it can be difficult to understand and keep pace with all the changes in payment processing and data security, especially for retailers who have so many other concerns on their plates. According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 8% of data breeches occur within the retail industry, not accounting for credit card company breeches. These breeches put customers’ financial data at risk, and damage consumer confidence in the businesses they shop with. While large retailers make the headlines because of the volume of data compromised in these breeches, small retailers also need to be aware of what they can do to protect their customers’ information.

Join us for our next Small Business After Hours as Ali Harris, Founder and Managing Consultant for Technical Framework, discusses what small retailers need to know about POS systems and cybersecurity. He’ll provide a high level overview of different types of POS systems, how the information they collect travels, security issues this creates, and more. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions from an expert in the IT field and network with other retailers.


Our Presenter

Ali Harris - Technical Framework

Ali is a veteran of the IT world with over 20 years of experience in technology services for small- and medium-sized businesses ranging from five to 300 employees.  Ali founded Technical Framework, an all services provider of computers, networks and secure technology business solutions, in 2010.   Ali’s academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Colorado State University and a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems from University of Phoenix.  In his leisure time, Ali enjoys watching sports and studying emerging technologies for business.  




Veterans Day 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ron O'Herron


On Friday, November 11th, once again we celebrate Veterans Day.  As a proud Veteran, this day always holds special meanings for me and I traditionally send out my thoughts to share with anyone who cares to read them.  Sometimes the memories seem like only yesterday that I served under the Stars and Stripes. I keep thinking that it will get easier for me to write this, but it never does and this year is no exception as I reflect back on the Hero’s  that I had the honor to serve with who paid the ultimate price for freedom.  Turning 70 this past July brought about a lot of memories of days gone by.  My family decided I needed a big celebration and looking at the many old photos that they had assembled, I found myself reflecting back to those friends that I have lost.  It is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone who has not experienced the ugliness of an armed conflict and the lasting scars it leaves, to truly understand what it is like.  I thank God every day for the commitment and sacrifice made by those serving our country and their families.  When I see professional athletes refuse to stand for our National Anthem, I do my best to understand their protest; however, will never condone their method.  The American Flag, a symbol that I proudly served under, is stained with the blood of thousands who gave their all to keep it flying over this Great Country.  They were not paid millions of dollars to do it and the game they were involved in was played with bullets and not balls.  Now that I have got that off my chest, I respectfully ask you to take time to thank a Veteran and remember those that gave their all for this Country.  They served so that others would not have to. 

Thanks You.  Have a great Veteran’s Day and God Bless America.



City of Fort Collins Community Development Scholarship

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
By Stu Crair


The City of Fort Collins (CFC) and Digital Workshop Center (DWC) have announced a $10,000 partnered scholarship opportunity for the residents of Fort Collins.  Named the ‘Community Development Scholarship’, the goal of this scholarship is to “help individuals and professionals to close the technology skills gaps that may exist in the Fort Collins workplace.”

Awards for this scholarship will be primarily divided amongst several sections of the local workforce: non-profits, teachers/educators, job seekers/unemployed/under-employed, and business professionals seeking career transition.

The City of Fort Collins’ Economic Health Office has generously provided $5,000 of scholarship funds to be distributed.  In addition, Digital Workshop Center is matching this $5,000 amount for a total award of scholarship funds available set at $10,000.  Award amounts will range from $250 to $1000 per individual.

“As more educational and work opportunities require technology skills, the City and Digital Workshop Center are excited to partner to provide educational access to a broader segment of our community,” said Jacqueline Kozak-Thiel, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Fort Collins. “We want to ensure that we’re bridging the financial gap for those in our community who are seeking personal improvement and upward skills mobility.”
According to Stu Crair, owner of Digital Workshop Center, this scholarship “is designed to help as many people as possible within our local community who are seeking to improve their technology skills.  There is a serious skills gap between the local workforce and the companies hiring in Fort Collins.  We hope this scholarship will help improve the talent of the local applicant pool as our city continues to grow."

The application process will begin on November 1st and close on December 1st. Interested applicants may apply online at DigitalWorkshopCenter.com/scholarship.  A panel of DWC staff and local professional development experts will review all applications and final decisions made in mid-December.

Complete rules and requirements for eligibility are listed on the scholarship website page.

Founded in 2006, Digital Workshop Center is a locally-owned private occupational school, Adobe Authorized Training Center, and coworking hub with locations in Fort Collins, Denver, and online.  DWC offers professional development and training classes on design software programs, desktop applications, business solutions and advanced computer training concepts.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Liz White at 970-980-8091 or email at liz@digitalworkshopcenter.com.

EPA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces the release of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Solicitation (https://www.epa.gov/sbir/sbir-funding-opportunities) to support the development and commercialization of innovative environmental technologies. The solicitation is posted on FedConnect, and all applications must be submitted through this electronic system.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participates in the SBIR Program as a result of the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. EPA is calling for small businesses to apply for Phase I awards up to $100,000 to demonstrate proof of concept in the following topic areas: air and climate, manufacturing, toxic chemicals, water, water and homeland security, and greener buildings. See the full solicitation for specific subtopics under each topic area and for details on how to apply. Successful Phase I companies are eligible to apply for Phase II funding, up to $300,000 for two years with a commercialization option of up to $100,000, to further develop and commercialize their technologies.

For general information on how to apply, visit https://www.epa.gov/sbir/how-apply-sbir-contract.


Missed the June 14, 2016, webinar on how to apply for the 2016 EPA SBIR Phase I Solicitation? Learn more: https://www.epa.gov/sbir/sbir-special-announcements

The EPA SBIR Program is part of EPA's Sustainable and Healthy (SHC) research program.

Larimer SBDC Success Story - New Ownership, Same Great Service, Same Great Team

Thursday, September 29, 2016
New Ownership, Same Great Service, Same Great Team

Owners: Tim & Julie Kenney
Story & Photography: Kat Rico


In 2014, Tim and Julie Kenney purchased Clay’s Ace Hardware, a mainstay of south Fort Collins since the original owners, Jim and Lisa Clay, started the store in 1998. Tim and Julie felt the entrepreneurial call, but did not necessarily want to start their own business, so they began looking for businesses to purchase. Their focus rested on a brand that was recognizable, and an existing business that had a culture built around service to the customers and community. They learned that Tim and Lisa Clay were considering selling their store located on Harmony Road in Fort Collins, however the Clays cared deeply about their employees and customers and only wanted to sell to someone with the same values. Tim appreciated this and said, “It’s the idea that people are coming to our store for more than an item.” 

Tim began investigating the Ace Hardware franchise model and discovered it was a cooperative, meaning each store is locally owned, but they still have a national organization with one vote per store. The franchise is particular about the owners it selects, and he went through the process, discovering the support the model offered along the way. Outside of the support from the franchise, Tim made his way in to the SBDC for consulting on the purchase process. The purchase took about a year to complete.

A key recommendation from one of the SBDC consultants was that he simply work in the business for the first few months of the transition. “We were focused on continuing the path of success of the previous owners and made no changes for the first six months,” said Tim. The store is classified a supercenter based on sheer size, with 17,000 square feet of retail space and a team of 31 people. There are approximately 13 full time employees, and the core group of employees have been with the store between 5 to 13 years. By heeding this advice, the Kenney’s were able to make the ownership transition and maintained 100% employee retention. “It’s the same great service with the same great team,” Tim says proudly.

The store remains deeply rooted in the community and regularly hosts fundraisers in it parking lots for local high school clubs, sports teams and others. They strive to maintain a welcoming attitude and create a fun environment with these events, an element other stores struggle to emulate. There are over a dozen events each year at the store.

Tim is excited for the future of the store and the possibilities of expansion. As he has come to understand the history and culture of the store, he has faced challenges, but with the support of the Ace franchise and SBDC consultants the ownership transition has been a success.