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Business Loan Fund Receives SBA Intermediary Funds

Business Loan Fund Receives SBA Intermediary Funds

Funding availability changes from time to time based on demand by businesses and our funding sources natural cycles.  In the past year, funding was looking scarce as demand was extremely high.

The Loan Fund has been awarded SBA Intermediary funding that should fill the niche of Micro Loans for the next two years.  Typically, businesses use these loans for purchasing equipment, inventory, or fund working capital needs.

The Loan Fund has access to Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).  The Funds existing contract will be expiring this fall, however, actions are underway to finalize a new four-year contract for this valuable funding source.  Region 10 has had eight contracts with OEDIT and has deployed just less than $5 million into the region. This funding source allows the fund to access capital for businesses that are start-up or expansions that are bringing low to moderate jobs to the region.  Since the inception of the CDBG program, Region 10 has created or retained 446 jobs of which 335 were in the low to moderate income levels.

A relatively new funding source has been made available from the Economic Development Commission (EDC).  A limited number of dollars has been earmarked for a Character Lending Program.  This program can lend money to businesses that typically do not meet the collateral or cash flow requirements of the other funding sources.  Although this funding source is very limited, Region 10 has been able to carefully deploy capital to make a difference in this underserved market segment of borrowers.

Lastly, the Loan Funds Revolving Loan Fund has a larger number of dollars to lend as the portfolio has grown the number of paid off loans is increasing and are being revolved back into the business community.

If you have a potential funding need contact the Region 10 Business Loan Fund Director Dan Scinto at 970-765-3126.

Meet Linda Conner, Region 10’s Newest Ombudsman

Meet Linda Conner, Region 10’s Newest Ombudsman

Meet Our Newest Ombudsman, Linda Conner

The Region 10’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman team is proud to welcome Linda Conner!

Linda retired after being an R.N. for 45 years, 25 of those spent in long-term care; she found myself missing the interactions with residents. As a child her mom had her volunteering in the “Sunshine Club” at church and she visited the nursing homes regularly. Linda always felt a special bond with the residents as a child and that foundation served her well as a nurse. As her career advanced Linda’s love for long-term care residents grew, improving resident quality of care and quality of life were at the core of everything she did.

She has been blessed to have many different nursing jobs and served as a legal nurse consultant, but her heart was always with long-term care residents and she began a search to somehow re-engage. The Region 10’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program accepted her offer to become a volunteer Ombudsman. She is grateful for the opportunity to spend a few hours a month with this very special population and help make sure their lives are as fulfilling as possible.

About Region 10’s Long-Term Ombudsman Program

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, and assisted living facilities. Ombudsman address a variety of complaints regarding the quality of life and care of individuals living in long-term care facilities. “We are the resident advocates there to reinforce Resident Rights and ensure that the voice of the resident is always heard, we are there to support residents and family members and work with the staff to improve the quality of life and care.”

If you would like to learn more about the Ombudsman program, please contact Sandy Walker at 970-765-3131

Broadband Update- August 2018

Broadband Update- August 2018

The Region 10 Broadband Project continues to develop the timelines for completion of the Carrier Neutral Locations (CNLs) and anchor builds in Hotchkiss, Paonia, and Cedaredge. Equipment installation has been completed at the Hotchkiss CNL at the County Annex and we are building out the fiber to connect to the regional network in partnership with DMEA. In Montrose County construction has wrapped up with the exception of the Olathe CNL and final fiber testing is underway for the county anchors. Additional sites that are being scheduled with the construction teams for completion by the end of September. The Olathe CNL is underway. Multiple last mile providers will be accessing this CNL to deliver both wireless and wired connectivity between Olathe and Delta and Montrose.

Construction from Nucla to Norwood is underway on a fiber connection to connect the Region 10 network to the San Miguel County project that will connect Nucla through Norwood and on to Telluride. Quotes for transport layer equipment are being prepared for the SMC project for 100G connectivity.

Permitting has begun for the CNL construction in Ridgway and final plans for the Ouray CNL have been completed. A review of conduit/fiber IRU and asset availability in both towns is underway with Clear Networx as planning is underway for the anticipated awarding of a USAC grant to construct approximately 30 miles of fiber from the Montrose Rec Center to the clinic in Ouray. Options for a temporary lit circuit to Ridgway are being explored in order to meet the requirements of the existing DOLA grant.   In Gunnison County, the Waste Water Treatment Plant electric project is underway which will involve the installation of middle mile fiber from the permanent CNL to the facility. This will include a fiber feed to Gunnison County Electric. The engineering and permitting process with CDOT is the first step in the process. CNL construction has begun with electrical design for HVAC and operational circuits in the space.

We have been in extended discussions with area providers looking to add to their route diversification. While no final agreements have been reached, we do anticipate some positive news in this area once we have finished the Delta County and Montrose County (Nucla) network extensions. We are also discussing a potential partnership that will provide a transport path to Albuquerque from Nucla. This connection has the potential to lower access costs further than originally planned while creating additional diversification opportunities.

Finally, Greg Winkler from the Department of Local Affairs shared the following information on Broadband funding status to date:

In 2013, the Department of Local Affairs launched a statewide Broadband Program to support the efforts of local governments to improve Broadband service to their constituents to achieve enhanced community and economic development.

The initiative: 

  • Promotes inter-jurisdictional communication
  • Supports better access to services available over Broadband, such as distance learning opportunities and telemedicine
  • Provides planning and middle mile infrastructure grants

Initially, $20M was set aside to assist local governments to fund these efforts.

As of the end of August 2018, we will have exhausted those dedicated funds.  In doing so DOLA and local government across the state developed over 20 strategic and sub-plans for the broadband implementation.  In addition, DOLA assisted 13 local governments in the development, construction, and acquisition of middle-mile broadband networks statewide.

Local governments and DOLA invested $2,217,773 and $2,993,168 respectively for broadband planning totaling $5,210,941.  Middle-mile projects that have been funded by local governments have totaled $17,678,842 and were matched with DOLA funding in the amount of $16,929,950. The total investment made for middle-mile projects is $34,608,792.  The total investment made by both local governments and DOLA for the Broadband Program over the last five years has been $39,819,733.

We understood when the initial dedication of funds was made that it was only a starting place for the statewide middle-mile effort and we are now looking to determine an estimate of the level of additional funds for the continued development, construction, and implementation of the middle-mile network. This collation of information is not intended to imply that there will be an additional dedication of funding by DOLA, but rather to understand what additional projects are being planned in the near term that may need assistance to come to fruition. It should also be noted that although DOLA no longer has dedicated broadband funding, those jurisdictions that have a broadband project that is ready to go should apply during a regular Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund cycle.  The request will be given the same consideration as all other applications to the fund.

In addition, we should all recognize the efforts by the Colorado General Assembly this year for the passage of SB-02 which allocated monies from the Colorado High-Cost Fund to the Broadband Deployment Board over the next five years for the installation of last-mile infrastructure and Broadband service by the private industry. Investments that have been made by DOLA and local governments in middle-mile infrastructure have made some of these last mile projects and services successful. This is the type of synergy that will bring broadband to every area of the State. 

These are exciting times in the development and deployment of open access middle mile networks in Colorado. We look forward to continuing to develop the physical infrastructure and the strategies necessary to enable our community and industry partners to meet the challenge of providing abundant, affordable access to gigabit broadband services.

Steps For Starting A Small Business in Colorado

Steps For Starting A Small Business in Colorado

At Region 10, we’ll be the first ones to say that starting a small business is no easy task. It requires a great deal of planning, persistence, and a true passion for what you do. That’s why we launched our non-profit organization back in 1972; we saw a need for more small business resources throughout Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel county. It is our mission to help people who are starting their own businesses get the small business loans and business development guidance they need to get on their feet.

Here at Region 10, we pride ourselves on the success we’ve had helping locals in these six communities bring their small business plans to life. From getting them small business loans and helping them develop a business plan to hosting small business courses through the Small Business Resource Center (SBRC), we’ve helped hundreds of local, non-profit, and small businesses over the years. Considering joining our Business Loan Fund (BLF) or Registering for Business Assistance? Here are some steps to follow as you start your small business with us.

Do Plenty Of Research

Aside from deciding you’re ready to make your small business dreams a reality, the first real step toward starting your own business is doing plenty of background research. Read about different business entities and decide which kind best fits your goals. Consider whether you’d like to be the sole proprietor of the business or you need others to help you take it on as a limited liability company (LLC). This decision will determine the taxes and liability associated with your business, so be sure to do your research and make an informed decision.

After figuring out what kind of business you’re going to start, do some research about Colorado business registration and trademarking your business name, what licenses and permits you need, which building to rent in your area, and how to your manage funds with an accounting system. It’s critical for aspiring small business owners to conduct this basic research about starting a small business so they know what they’re getting into before it’s too late.

Identify Your Purpose

All technicalities aside, it’s also important to look up your competitors and identify your target audience. Ask yourself: “What makes my competitors successful?” and “Who am I trying to target with my product/service and how can I reach them?” These questions are critical to understanding the industry you’re trying to break into, and a little research goes a long way when you take the time to break it all down in the brainstorming phase.

All too often, aspiring small business owners miss the mark and market their business to the wrong audience, giving their competitors the upperhand. To avoid this and give yourself a far better chance at success, sit yourself down with a pad and paper and outline exactly what you are trying to accomplish and how you plan to do it.

Of course, there are plenty of resources available to help you do this, and you should never hesitate to reach out to us if you’d like to attend one of our classes about marketing strategy and planning, branding your business, customer service, or any other aspect of starting a small business that targets the right consumers. We would be happy to share our knowledge and experiences with you!

Develop A Business Plan

Once you’ve done your initial research about the technicalities associated with starting a small business and identified your purpose, it’s time to develop a solid business plan. Essentially, this is your step-by-step plan of execution for how you will start and maintain a successful small business in Colorado. In this document, you’ll include your company description, source of revenue, your products and services, your strategy, your financial plan, and more.

This varies by business, of course, so if you find yourself getting stuck or aren’t sure what to include, look up the business plans of competitors in your industry and model yours after them. Or, if you would like professional guidance, attend a small business course at the SBRC about how to write a business plan and then implement the things you learned.

Find A Source Of Funding

Finding the funds to start a small business can be tricky and even frustrating at times, given that only a fraction of aspiring small business owners actually have the money required to get started. Luckily, there are many funding options available for startup businesses in Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel county, and we can help you get the funds you need through our Business Loan Fund.

As a non-profit, Region 10 has formed its BLF from the Colorado Development Block Grants, the Small Business Administration Microloan Program, the USDA Intermediary Relending Program, and Repaid or “Revolved” Loans. Our partnerships with these organizations have allowed us to provide small business loans to hundreds of local, non-profit, and small businesses in these six communities over the last few decades, and we would be happy to consider your application if you are eligible. If you are interested in applying for a small business loan with our BLF, fill out the Application Information and Business Plan Essentials sheet and build a business plan using the SBA template and tutorial.

Assemble Your Team & Start Promoting Your Business

Now it’s time for the fun part! Once you have all the technicalities in order, you can put your team to work and start promoting your business. You’ll need to create a unique selling proposition, a marketing plan, and think up other ways to promote your business, which you should have fun and be creative and with. Think of all the work you’ve put into your small business up to this point and how you’re starting to see it pay off. Take pride in your accomplishments and celebrate them with your team while you embark on this adventure together. Trust our business experts at Region 10 when we say that you earned it, and contact us for any small business development help you may need along the way!

Signs Your Small Business Will Succeed

Getting a business off the ground can be a bit tricky. Here at Region 10, we know this intimately, but that’s also why we are here. We offer business resources and classes for Montrose, Hinsdale, Ouray, Gunnison, Salida, San Miguel, and Delta County at our range of regional offices. If you’ve gotten your small business up and running, or are looking to start one, and want to know how your business is doing, we have a range of signs to give you a basic idea. None of these are guaranteed to tell you if your business will succeed, but a healthy income and these signs are good indicators.

You’re Not the Only Person Doing the Work

If you are working on your business and you’re alone, it’s best to get a bit of help. Doing things the hard way can work for a bit, but covering everything from accounting to running the counter and doing inventory is beyond difficult, it’s irresponsible and mistakes are bound to be made. A select few people can do this for a time, but the bottom line is that this isn’t scalable and, eventually, you will need to hire on more people. Being able to trust others in elements of your day-to-day running of the business is important and helps the business thrive in a variety of ways.

Your Business is Flexible

Having a solid business plan is important, but being able to make adjustments when issues are found in the plan or structure of the business is critical. By being able to make changes in business, you can adjust as necessary and find what really makes your business thrive.

You Make Decisions with Legal, Marketing, and Accounting in Mind

Every single choice you make will affect your company. If you have a big idea for a new product, service, hire, or whatnot, having your legal, marketing, and accounting specialist or departments in agreement, it means it’s a good call and a good sign. These three areas not only affect each other, but are critical to your success. Marketing can give you feedback about your services, products, and outreach. Legal specialists can help you understand potential legal issues and how to avoid them. Your accountant will inform you about the financial impacts of the move and their benefits. If you are making big decisions with these three areas in agreement, you’re on the right track.

You Plan For the Future

Looking at quarterly goals is important but, a business that only looks at the short term will almost always fail. As you get started, remember to plan out your business’s big steps. Keep in mind that there are often hold-ups and market fluctuations that businesses have to weather. Having a solid business plan from the get-go and keeping it up to date as you go along can help you to keep a solid plan and idea for how to weather the worst of it.

Your Network is Growing

As your business grows, your network and resources should grow with it. Reach out to regional organizations and increase your reach online and in social media. These days businesses make it or break it largely from their online presence. If your networks are constantly expanding then you are doing it right and your reach will help to keep you afloat whether your business is E-commerce or local business in scale.

You’re Receiving and Responding to Customer Complaints

When you get customer feedback, it’s good to look for patterns. If a lot of people are complimenting one aspect and critiquing another, and you are changing it, then you’re ahead of the curve. An adaptive business that listens to customers is a great way to turn from a good business to a great business, and often times that is the difference in success.

You Invest in Your Business

Any business can use constant upgrades and investments. This can mean extra help, more marketing, or better equipment. But having an eye for what is needed and where, and then getting what your business needs, when you can afford it, is a great way to know that your business won’t stagnate.

Although none of these signs are guarantees of success, they are good to keep in mind when reflecting on your business practice and growth. If you live in Montrose, Hinsdale, Ouray, Gunnison, Salida, San Miguel, or Delta County in Colorado, Region 10 is the small business resource center for you.

Region 10: Small Business Mistakes to Avoid in Colorado

Starting a small business isn’t easy. But nothing worth doing was ever easy. If you plan on becoming a successful small business, then you need to be able to avoid making the mistakes that small businesses often make. What follows is our list of tips for small business owners. There is certainly more to it than this, but the basics are here. If you are interested in more, we at Region 10 offer small business training and classes, along with a wide range of small business resources and small business loan and grant opportunities.

Not Doing Your Research

One of the most important aspects of any large venture, let alone starting a business, is knowing what you are getting into. Oftentimes, a business starts as an idea, and then gets in trouble as unexpected and unforeseen issues come up which can quickly land the business in trouble in a number of ways. Before you start a business it is best to start by doing research. If you are reading this right now, then you are on the right track. A successful business requires insurances across a range of areas, licensing, inspections, an address, a property, a legal entity (like LLC or sole proprietorship), startup capital, equipment, employees, and a range of legal and financial obligations that it must meet. When starting a business, talking to other business owners can give you a much better idea of what you should be looking at. If you do this well enough, you should already have most of this list in consideration.

Starting a Business Without an Official Legal Entity

It’s tempting to go from idea to action, because it’s not illegal, but it’s also not smart. By creating a legal entity for any businesslike endeavor is a very smart move. Different entities provide different but similar legal frameworks in which to operate, but all of them provide perks to different degrees. Like before, research is key. For instance, an LLC can provide you with limited legal protection from debts and obligations of the business, but a sole proprietorship does not. Similarly, owning an LLC requires you to be a US Citizen in the United States. But this is not a requirement of an S Corporation. Getting a business started is surprisingly cheap. Starting an LLC here in Colorado takes a mere $70.

Not Enough Capital When Starting out

Starting any business is not cheap. That’s why people often times opt for business loans to help them get started. Before you take out your business loan, you need to plan for how much money that will take. When doing the math, remember that there will be hard times, licenses of different types will take time, and depending on your location, may have to come from different county or city entities.

Not Planning for the Down Times

This is a critical element to starting a small business. When you are running your budget you need to take in all of your assumed start up costs, then have a good estimation of how much you will take in based off of market projections. If it looks like you will make twice as much money as you will cost in your first year, then you might succeed. Businesses will have good times and bad times. Sometimes a good business model with great products can fail because the owners didn’t adequately prepare for the down times.

Partnering with Friends and not Business Partners

When people enter into a business they are entering a legal partnership with requirements to meet, much like a marriage. When in a partnership it is important to treat your partner as a business partner, because that is what you two are. Joking and friendship are great but can really get in the way of honest communication and effective decision making. If you are set on creating a partnership make sure that it is not a 50/50 partnership, Having a 51% and 49% partnership or similar can be an effective way to prevent infighting because at least one person can make decisions during a tie.

Knowing the Industry but not the Market

Many small business owners are guilty of this. You might be the best painter in all of Delta county, but if no one has heard of you and you don’t have a way of entering the market, your business will suffer. Many people starting a business, are excellent at their trade but lack the understanding of the market around them. Here at Region 10, we offer a range of marketing and market analysis classes in order to teach new generations of Coloradan businesses how to thrive against all odds.

We hope that these tips can effectively get you started down the road to small business success. Here at Region 10, we serve Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel County in the Mountain west of Colorado by providing small business loans, classes, and other resources to help our small business get off the ground and thriving. Contact us today to learn more!

Region 10 Posts Broadband Equipment RFP

Region 10 has re-posted its Request For Proposal for Network Equipment. Funding for this RFP includes software and licensing costs required to meet the minimum specifications for operational readiness during the first year of operations.

This Request for Proposal is to solicit proposals from qualified vendors who can provide the required network equipment to complete the Region 10 Middle Mile Network in Colorado. The network equipment will include layer 3 switches, routers, network monitoring equipment and software, and other related equipment. This is an equipment and installation bid.

This project is partially funded with Federal Funds from the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration and therefore is subject to the Federal laws and regulations associated with that program.

Request for Proposal documents and details on the award process can be found on the Region 10 electronic bid site: www.bidnetdirect.com/colorado/Region 10leap;  or by emailing Chris Kennedy, Region 10 Broadband Project Director at chris@region10.net.

Safe Online Shopping

Safe Online Shopping

‘Tis the season for excessive shopping and since many people will purchase their holiday gifts online, this is a good time to brush up on some internet safety tips. Here are a few reminders for protecting your personal and financial information while shopping online:

  • Don’t share your banking information while using free public Wi-Fi or public computers.
  • Only shop on secure sites that begin with “https” and/or display a padlock in your browser.
  • Verify the reputation of the online merchant. If you are unsure about a merchant do your research.
  • Make sure your computer and browser security features are installed and updated.
  • Confirm a working customer service phone number in case you have issues with the product.
  • Avoid shopping for a product based on unsolicited emails, texts or pop-up advertisements.
  • Be suspicious if you are shopping for a product and one site is offering unbelievably lower prices than any other site. They may be trying to collect personal information or sell knock-off products.
  • Read the fine print, terms, and conditions and return policy before finalizing any purchase.
  • Only use a credit card when shopping online, avoid any less conventional forms of payment like money orders.
  • Keep a record of your purchase on file in case you need to reference it in the future.
  • Regularly check your credit card statements to ensure all transactions are authorized by you.

If you are concerned about the safety and security of your information online, you always have the option to shop over the phone or in a store. To report online fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center visit www.ic3.gov or call an AARP Foundation ElderWatch volunteer specialist.

800-222-4444

www.aarpelderwatch.org

Data Breaches + Identity Theft

Data Breaches + Identity Theft

In recent years, we have dealt with major data breaches at hospitals, retail stores, and government offices. In September, we learned Equifax’s data was breached, potentially affecting millions of people. While these breaches are alarming, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a victim of identity theft. It does mean that you should take precautionary measures to protect your identity.

The following are some steps to consider taking:

  • Review your annual credit report. Call 877-322- 8228 or visit annualcreditreport.com.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is free and lasts for 90 days. Contact one bureau only. www.Equifax.com (800-525- 6285) www.Experian.com (888-397- 3742) www.TransUnion.com (800-680- 7289)
  • Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or call (866-447-7559) to learn more about the breach and if your information was affected.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your file. You will have to request to remove the freeze if you apply for credit. You must contact all three bureaus. Fee to freeze and lift applies. www.Equifax.com (800-349- 9960) www.Experian.com (888-397- 3742) www.TransUnion.com (888-909- 8872)
  • Monitor your credit card and bank statements.
  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls or emails appearing to come from Equifax, the other credit bureaus or financial institutions.

If you have questions about any of these precautionary measures, don’t hesitate to contact an AARP Foundation ElderWatch volunteer at 800-222-4444 option 2.

800-222- 4444
www.aarpelderwatch.org

Source: AARP Foundation

 

Broadband Update- Fall 2017

Broadband Update- Fall 2017

Notice of Final Settlement and Certification of Completion was issued for the Delta construction. Final construction audit is underway for the City of Montrose. Both communities are “live” and Anchor activations continue.

Region 10 and FastTrack Communications continue to develop operations planning while the Operations and Maintenance contract is under legal review. It is anticipated that the contract will be executed in mid-November.

The EDA Equipment Request for Proposal (RFP) draft was approved by Economic Development Administration (EDA) last week. The proposal has been published on the Rocky Mountain Bid Network and the pre-bid conference was completed Monday, October 2. In conjunction with the publishing of the RFP, the Tri-State Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) agreement is slated to be on the Tri-State board’s docket for their November board meeting.

In Gunnison County, the 10G circuit from CenturyLink has been installed tested and turned up. Region 10 Network equipment has been installed on the Western State campus and the link is active. Provisioning for use at the university is underway and live traffic should be underway in the next two weeks. Construction estimates for the Carrier Neutral Location’s (CNL) in Gunnison and Crested Butte will be finalized on Tuesday, October 3 for consideration by the Local Technology Group. Anchor construction estimates are being finalized and will be issued prior to the next Local Technology Group meeting.

Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) continues to work on easement perfections in Delta and Montrose counties and is making great progress. We are currently involved in discussions for fiber access at CNL locations in Paonia, Hotchkiss, Cedaredge, and Crawford in an effort to eliminate overbuilding existing assets and further developing the partnership. We continue to work on construction estimates for Montrose County to add anchor locations and determine how best to partner to deliver service to Olathe, working together with the county and DMEA.

Fiber access options for Ridgway and Ouray continue to be explored with Zayo, San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), Tri-State, and DMEA. An engineering order has been submitted for a 10Gbps wave from Montrose to Ridgway. We fully expect to complete CNL locations in both communities this year.

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