SBDC Template

Blog

Colorado Enterprise Fund Launches Veteran Loan Program - VALOR

Monday, November 06, 2017

CEF Launches Small Business Loan Program for Veterans – VALOR

The Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC) has received notification that the Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) is launching a new small business loan program for veterans. The loan program, created to support U.S. military veterans and Gold Star Families (surviving spouses and children of veterans) in Colorado, will officially launch on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2017.

Veteran Access Loan Opportunity Resource (VALOR) will provide discounted loan rates and extended terms for military veterans who are unable to secure financing through traditional banks. The VALOR loan program offers loan amounts up to $500,000 for working capital, equipment, inventory, property improvements, business purchases and purchases of commercial real estate. The program offers a loan rate that is discounted 2% from standard CEF rates with loan terms of up to 10 years and interest-only periods of up to six months.

One in 10 businesses are veteran-owned businesses, and those businesses employ six million workers, generating $1.2 trillion in annual receipts, according to the Small Business Administration, or SBA.

Previously, the SBA offered two loan programs that were created specifically for veteran-owned businesses: the Patriot Express Loan (which expired in 2013) and the SBA Veterans Advantage Loan Program (which expired in October 2014). It is exciting to see that CEF is introducing this new program during National Veterans Small Business Week (Oct. 30 through Nov. 3). Although CEF has not previously offered a formal program for military veterans and their families, over the past two decades, CEF has provided 30 loans to veterans in Colorado totaling $1.2 million. These loans have created 200 jobs and allowed for the retention of nearly 100 jobs statewide.

Those interested in applying for the VALOR loan program can apply online via the CEF website and/or can contact Mike Jensen, CEF senior loan officer and U.S. Army veteran, at mike@coloradoenterprisefund.org. CEF is a community partner of the Loveland Business Development Center. LBDC clients can schedule an appointment with Lewis Hagler, CEF director of credit, at the LBDC office on Wednesday afternoons.

The Loveland Business Development Center offers free business counseling and low cost workshops to Loveland residents and businesses.

 

About Colorado Enterprise Fund
Founded in 1976, Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) provides loans up to $500,000 to finance small businesses and startups unable to obtain funding through traditional banks. With a mission to accelerate community prosperity by financing and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, CEF has provided over $64 million in loans to more than 2,000 businesses to help create or retain over 17,000 jobs in the state. A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CEF is based in Denver with a satellite office in Fort Collins. CEF’s lending and consulting services are available statewide. For more information, visit: www.coloradoenterprisefund.org

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.

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.

How to Prep & Pitch Your Loan

Friday, May 13, 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Presenter: Shannon Richardson - Community Banks of Colorado


Are you going to be seeking financing for your business? Whether it is an existing business or a brand new start-up, there are several things you need to know BEFORE you approach a lender. We're bringing in Shannon Richardson of Community Banks of Colorado to give you the rundown of what you need to know. Bring your lunch and join us to learn:

What Are Your Choices?
• Microloan, SBA, Conventional Bank Loan
• Overview and comparison of different loan types 

Preparing to Approach Your Lender
• Credit scores (FICO) and how to repair if needed 
• Understanding your financials-Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement
• What are the 5 C’s of Credit?
• What are the expectations for…Capital Injection (owner’s investment), Cash Flow (what is cash flow), Required Documents, Timeline (turnaround time) and Costs


This is a FREE event, but pre-registration is required




Are Business Plans Dead?

Monday, April 27, 2015
by Kat Rico

Business plans have long been touted as the method for success if you are starting a new venture, but is the traditional business plan dead? Many entrepreneurs are intimidated by the idea of creating a document that can end up being in excess of 30 pages, let alone determining which sections they need and what goes in them. It’s also easy to assume that if you’re a small business (whatever your definition of small is), you don’t need a business plan, especially if you’re not seeking financing. 

So do you really need a business plan?
Short answer: Yes.


A business plan should be a guiding document for your business as a whole. It is not a static document that you create once, leave and never look at again. Your business plan should be what guides your vision and drives actions for all the decisions your business will make. Ideally, you should be revisiting your business plan at least annually, maybe even quarterly, to make sure you are on the right track. 

Does it need to be a massive 30 page document?
Short answer: Maybe not.

Not all businesses are the same, so it make sense that not all business plans need to be the same. Following are key elements you should have in any business plan, traditional or not:
Executive Summary – This is a short summary of what is in your plan, including what your vision for your business is, what your product or service is, and who will buy it. Do yourself a favor and write this section last, even though it is at the front of your plan.
Marketing Plan – Include information about the demographics of where you will be doing business and who your customers are, as well as how you will reach them (flyers, social media, website, events, etc.).
Operations – Give a snapshot of what the day-to-day practices of your business will look like, who will be your suppliers and who your key partners are.
Financials – This is arguably the most important part of your business plan. Where is the money coming from, where is it going, and how long will it take for your business to be profitable? Be honest about this section, overinflating numbers won’t do you any favors in the long run.
Goals – Use the SMART framework for setting your business goals for the next year, three years and five years out. This will help guide your decisions in the meantime and give you something to celebrate when you hit milestones.

While a traditional business plan may be overkill for some businesses, it is a very important guiding document, and the look of it will vary depending on how it is being used. You may even end up with two or three versions of it, one for you as the business owner, one to show to potential investors, and one for your management team.

Don’t let the process of writing this plan intimidate you! It is best that you, as the business owner, write this plan yourself as opposed to hiring someone to do it for you, because the plan will mean more to you in the end. There are templates available for free online to get you started, and the Larimer SBDC is here to help with free, confidential one-on-one consulting, as well as classes designed specifically to help you write a business plan.

Maximizing your chances of getting that loan

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Maximizing your chances of getting that loan by understanding the 5 C's
by Mike O'Connell, SBDC Director

At the SBDC we work with lots of clients who need capital.  They need capital to start businesses, buy businesses, expand businesses, launch new products, etc.  In my opinion, there is a lot of mystery and myth surrounding the issue of what it takes to get a loan.   A great tool to self-analyze your readiness as a potential borrower is to better understand the “5-C’s” of credit:

1)      Capacity - Does your business produce enough cash to reasonably pay off a loan, in good times and bad?  If you don’t know, the SBDC can help you with business and financial planning to get a better comfort level.

2)      Collateral - Are there assets that can used to help secure the loan, as a safety net for the lender?  Machinery, land, saleable inventory, accounts receivable, etc.?

3)      Capital - What capital do you have as the borrower, both as an initial investment and to help the business weather rough spots? Lenders look much more favorably at loan application where the borrower has some “skin in the game”. 

4)      Character – a key measure of this is your personal credit rating. Please take a little time to correct any discrepancies/errors with your credit rating BEFORE you apply for a loan, it will help.

5)       Conditions – This refers to any special situations related to your application.  For example, if you want a loan to buy a rotary-dial phone business, the lender will probably have many questions to better understand this situation, relative to what’s occurring in the communication industry.

Rarely is an application perfect in all five areas, so as a potential borrower you want to be able to emphasize your strengths, and correct or minimize/explain your weaknesses.  Banks want to lend money, but with the average bad debt write-off at about 1.5%,  banks need to be “right” about 98.5% of the time, so there is little margin for error.   We can help you with classes and consulting to better prepare your loan application, as well as connect you to potential capital resources.  Good luck !