10 Reasons to Start a Business on Colorado’s Western Slope
Things are hopping business-wise on the Western Slope. From the reimagined activities of Chambers of Commerce in just about every community and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offices located in Grand Junction, Montrose, Gunnison, and Durango to the recent proliferation of coworking spaces, incubators, accelerators, and innovation centers dotting the “corridor of innovation”, you’re sure to find the support and inspiration you need to reach the dream of running your own business.
- Local Chambers serve as the voice for local businesses. While many focus on the promotion of area tourism and retail shopping destinations, many also represent the interest of business at all levels of government, provide networking opportunities, and engage in community development activities.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) have a presence in Grand Junction at the Business Incubator, in Gunnison at the ICE Lab on Western Colorado State University campus (as well as a satellite office in Montrose at Region 10), and in Durango at Fort Lewis College. SBDCs offer low or no-cost consulting, training, and specialty programs for startups, solopreneurs, small businesses, and small manufacturers.
- Region 10’s Small Business Resource Center serves a six-county area including Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. It hosts an SBDC satellite office as well as provides workshops and training for second-stage and growth companies, access to capital through its Loan Fund, and serves as the administrator for Colorado’s Enterprise Zone tax credits. www.region10.net
- Voted the top co-working space in the world, Proximity Space is an ever-expanding network of coworking spaces across the Western Slope and beyond. One membership in any location will give you access to their vast network including the Factory in Grand Junction, the Hive in Paonia, ICE Lab in Gunnison, and Collective Mine in Naturita. https://proximity.space/
- Grand Junction’s Business Incubator was voted National Business Incubator Association’s (NBIA) Incubator of the Year in 2012/2013—out of more than 7,000 incubators worldwide. In addition to providing SBDC services, it leases space to client companies and provides access to a licensed commercial kitchen, a makerspace, and light manufacturing area as well as providing affiliate space, with hourly rent and shared services, for those who don’t need a full-time workspace.
- Newest in the pack, and still under development, is the upcoming Delta Innovation Center’ s ENGAGE (ENergy, Growth, AGriculture, and Entrepreneurship) a project of the Delta County Public Schools and Delta-Montrose Technical College. Planned to be a combination office space, coworking, workshop, and training venue, it will also serve as an innovation hub for agricultural technology, energy, and value-added food development. ENGAGE is expected to open in 2018.
- ICE Lab, located on the Western State campus in Gunnison, is a mentor-driven program that pairs high-growth startups with industry specific mentors, advisors, and investors. Selected businesses undergo 12 weeks of acceleration programming, mentorship, and training, culminating in a pitch day to investors from across Colorado and beyond. https://icelab.co/
- SCAPE in Durango boasts 15 companies launched, 45 jobs created, and $3.6 million in capital raised. The core of the SCAPE Program is an intensive 6-month program with access to mentors, advisors, investors, seed money, and office space.
- Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA) is leading the conversation around building real companies in mountain towns. Directing and facilitating such conversations has earned the TVA a reputation for being a global hub for entrepreneurial thinking. Since 2012, eighteen startup companies have graduated the program and raised more than $1 million with the help of a world-class network of more than 90 mentors spanning the globe. As a result, more than 87 jobs have been created. http://www.tellurideva.com
- Southwest Innovation Corridor (SWIC) is a neutral coordinator, convener, and capacity-building initiative of the Telluride Foundation. Its purpose is to create a coordinated hub of innovation by bringing together efforts to inspire idea creation, cultivate business innovation, and build an eco-system to support sustainable outcomes. SWIC serves new and existing entrepreneurs and innovators in an eight county area, including Delta, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, Montezuma, Dolores, San Juan and La Plata counties, and partners with the Telluride Venture Accelerator, Ft. Lewis College, Regions 9 & 10 Economic Development Districts, Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs, co-working spaces, and SBDCs.