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Chris Kennedy hired as Broadband Project Director

Chris Kennedy hired as Broadband Project Director

With the acquisition of several large grants and the development of a comprehensive implementation strategy, the regional broadband network proposed by Region 10 is becoming more of a reality by the day.

As this project accelerates, the need for a high level of detail and technical knowledge to implement the strategy are the utmost importance. Region 10 created a position dedicated to this very need, and recently filled the opening.

Chris Kennedy, the new Regional Broadband Project Director hired by Region 10, brings over 25 years of experience in integrating telecommunication technology systems and developing successful models of implementation.

Kennedy’s background is a robust mixture of public service and entrepreneurialism. Kennedy’s public service spans from his time serving in the United States Marine Corps to his current role as Councilman at Large with the City of Grand Junction.

Kennedy’s tenure in the private sector has centered on telecommunication technology. With a resume that boasts titles such as Director Engineering with Charter Communications, Systems Integration Manager with CompuCom and Technical Operations Manager with Bresnan Communications, Kennedy has dedicated the bulk of his professional career to proliferation of information technology. He also started his own business—Kennedy Telecom—which has an 11 year track record of delivering information technology solutions to small businesses in Western Colorado.

Approaching a professional crossroad, Kennedy needed to determine if he wanted to continue down the road of his corporate path or to do something with a deeper impact on his community.

“I wanted to do something more altruistic with an NGO or non-profit that focused on improving quality of life and entrepreneurial opportunities in the broadband space,” Kennedy states.

During his tenure with City of Grand Junction, Kennedy was introduced to the state and local efforts to expand broadband on the Western Slope during a conference in Vail last year. As a result of this networking event, Kennedy learned about Region 10, and kept close tabs on the organization’s efforts. Once the Broadband Project Manager position was created, Kennedy knew that he was the right fit for the job.

“Region 10 is pleased to have someone with Chris’ experience in both the private and public sectors, as it serves the overall mission and intent of the Region 10 project in the best possible way,” states Michelle Haynes, Executive Director of Region 10. “We are looking forward to having Chris’ expertise to lead the implementation of the Region 10 project, as well as assist our local governments to leverage the project as it works best in their local communities.”

Kennedy will serve as the primary liaison for all of the existing partnerships—including Region 10 municipalities and county governments, internet service providers, utility coops, and a plethora of engaged community stakeholders—that are driving the construction of the new network.

Calling himself a “cheerleader for broadband,” Kennedy is passionate about the delivery of this service throughout communities in need to adapt to a 21st century economy. “My vision is to get as much affordable, high-speed data access to as many people in as many places as is economically feasible,” he comments.

As the new public face of broadband, Kennedy will face the daunting task of coordinating the existing broadband implementation strategy, which includes the buildout of middle-mile infrastructure designed to deliver affordable, abundant, and redundant internet service to the six-county region served by Region 10.

The position is funded in part by a $75,000 grant awarded to Region 10 by the El Pomar Foundation for two years.

In an official statement, the El Pomar Foundation wrote the following in regards to the grant: “Recognizing the impact of access to broadband on the region’s economic development efforts, Region 10 and the San Juan Regional Council of El Pomar Foundation have recognized the value of a regional broadband coordinator. Region 10 has received this grant from the San Juan Regional Council to support this effort.”

Only a few days into his first week, Kennedy hit the ground running. Region 10’s broadband committee is currently reviewing request for proposals for construction on the first phase of the network’s buildout, which covers Delta County and parts of Montrose County.

“Region 10 is certainly heading in the right direction when it comes to broadband,” Kennedy comments.

Considering the resources set aside specifically at the state and federal level, Kennedy adds, “It’s a good political environment and funding environment to make that happen.” Kennedy remains optimistic about the future of broadband for the region.

For more information regarding broadband, Kennedy can be reached at chris@region10.net and (970) 765-3139.

Eva Goes to Washington

Eva Goes to Washington

By Eva Veitch
Director, Community Living Services

A couple of months ago I found an email from Senators Gardner and Bennett in my spam email. I took a chance and opened the invitation to “Colorado at the Capital.” This event is co-sponsored by our Senators, CMU, and CU Boulder and is intended to better engage community leaders. I was intrigued by the invitation so I explored the website and decided to apply. After all, I have plenty to say about aging and disabilities, the re-authorization of the Older Americans Act, the lack of support for the Long Term Care Ombudsman program; and the list goes on. Maybe I could get someone to listen or at least make some valuable contacts for future crusades.

Much to my surprise, I made the cut and my agency supported the trip. I was off to Washington, DC June 8th. It was a jam packed agenda of high powered Washington politicians held at the Capital Building. I was joined in this experience by a wide variety of Coloradoans who were eager to learn what really happens in DC. We experienced first-hand what it actually takes to get a bill passed as Cory Gardner fought for a bill that has an economic impact on Colorado. It is a very slow-moving process, but we kept hearing that our Nation’s Founders designed it that way to ensure that decisions that impact all of us are well thought out, that there is always a “devil’s advocate” and several opportunities to ask why before ideas become law.

I am happy to say that Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett are both highly regarded by their peers at the Capital. Many of the speakers complimented “our guys” as people who really care about the issues and set a good example for working across the isle. I was impressed by the caliber of young people who intern at the Capital, there are many up and coming future politicians who are eager to make a difference. The political climate this year made for many interesting conversations and being right there in DC I found myself questioning some of my own opinions. It is good to hear all sides of the story before making your own conclusions.

Our group was dynamic and diverse with representatives from large and small business, educations, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, law and local government. We were all eager to see how things happen at the Capital and “our Colorado team on the hill” did not disappoint. Senators Gardner and Bennett work hard to represent us in our Nation’s Capital. In this year of extreme political turmoil; I was pleased to see people treating one another with respect and trying to make good decisions on our behalf. I am encouraged by the number of interested and engaged young people and overall hopeful. I was amazed that most of my fellow travelers had no idea about the Older Americans Act or how to access services for older adults; I educated anyone who would listen!

This country girl returned to Colorado tired but optimistic. I would encourage everyone to learn more and seek opportunities like this one to become more engaged in what goes on in our world.

Region 10 to Hire Broadband Coordinator

Region 10 to Hire Broadband Coordinator

This article originally appeared in Gunnison Country Times, and Region 10 received permission to republish. 

Region 10 to hire broadband coordinator

Position funded by economic development grant

By Alan Wartes
Gunnison Times Staff Writer

These days, there is at least one thing upon which most people in rural Colorado can agree — the need for improved broadband internet service. Recent outages across much of the Western Slope have left little doubt that the combination of society’s increasing dependence on the internet and lagging infrastructure development is a real problem facing communities in the region.

Region 10 — a “non-profit organization offering public programs in support of eighteen local communities and six counties in western Colorado”  — is taking the lead in tackling the issue. The group is spearheading a major project to improve internet redundancy throughout the region — that is, to provide “carrier neutral” backup conduits for internet service — whether through parallel fiber optic cables or other means of transmission.
To better manage that program, Region 10 has announced plans to hire a regional broadband coordinator. The position will be funded for the first two years by a $150,000 grant from the El Pomar Foundation.
“Recognizing the impact of access to broadband on the region’s economic development efforts, Region 10 and the San Juan Regional Council of El Pomar Foundation have recognized the value of a regional broadband coordinator,” a foundation release states. “This position will be responsible for managing the implementation of the Region 10 broadband plan, as well as coordinating with local governments and internet service providers to leverage resources and complete middle mile broadband connections.”
The grant was recommended by El Pomar’s San Juan Regional Council, one of 11 such bodies throughout Colorado designed to help disburse the foundation’s funding more evenly across the state. Former Gunnison County Commissioner Hap Channell is a member.
“As a council, we wanted to help boost economic development in the region and felt that funding this coordinator position was a tangible way to do just that,” he wrote in an e-mail.
“In a perfect world, the West Slope would not have our systems go down like they did recently,” said Region 10 Executive Director Michelle Haynes. “We would have sufficient redundancy to maintain adequate service at all times. That means that businesses and individuals have access to the services they need at an affordable enough rate that they are competitive with anyone else in the state or in the country.”
Haynes admits, however, that achieving that goal — especially in challenging locations like Gunnison County — is at best a long-term, expensive undertaking. At present, CenturyLink owns the only fiber optic cable coming in and out of the community, and the investment needed to duplicate that system as a backstop against outages is prohibitive.
The Region 10 infrastructure program — in which a number of local governments and organizations are participating — is exploring a variety of alternative methods of connecting the Gunnison Valley with networks elsewhere in the state. Those include microwave links pointed east and south and a plan to use high-tension power lines belonging to the Western Area Power Administration.
“The story is still to try to get people to envision the internet as entertainment, a luxury, an add-on if you will,” said Haynes. “But that’s not what it’s become. It’s a necessity, and it probably should have been thought of all along as a public utility, but it certainly is at a utility level now.
Haynes said Region 10 has received numerous “promising” applications for the new position, and she hopes to have the job filled by Aug. 1.

 

Broadband Fiber Comes to Delta County

Broadband Fiber Comes to Delta County

Region 10’s efforts for improving broadband services is becoming a reality. Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning announces the arrival of the first order of fiber optic cable for construction of its regional broadband network. 60,000 feet of fiber arrived recently at the Delta Public Works Depot where it will be stored during construction. The completed network will provide abundant, affordable and reliable broadband to the twenty-two, member communities throughout the Region.

This is the first of numerous orders for fiber and other materials needed for network construction in the City of Delta. The fiber optic cable will be used to provide connections for key government and community facilities throughout the City and will be used by existing Internet service providers to reduce their costs of offering broadband services to homes and businesses. This year’s network construction will take place in the Cities of Delta and Montrose, and is the first big milestone in helping local governments to bring high-speed, Gigabit-enabled broadband to the Region.

Region 10 issued several invitations for proposal in June; the first being the Request for Information (RFI) for Dark Fiber IRU or Swap Agreement. The purpose of this bid was to invite those companies with networks in the region to discuss how they could partner with Region 10 for the benefit of the various communities. The second invitation was the Request for Proposal (RFP) for network construction in the City of Delta. The month-long submission period has ended and provided proposals which are currently under review. A general contractor will now be selected and construction activities are scheduled to begin within the next several weeks. A third invitation for proposal has also been issued in July for network construction in the City of Montrose.

The RFPs and RFI are part of a long term Region 10 initiative to help local governments in bringing high-speed, Gigabit-enabled broadband to their communities. The continued goal of these efforts is to construct the “middle mile” infrastructure throughout the Region, while providing redundancy for the individual cities. Local governments have identified affordable and reliable, high-speed broadband as essential to the Region’s economic development, public safety and health, and statewide competitiveness.

Region 10’s efforts have been extensively supported by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) in this broadband project. DOLA has been a critical partner for infrastructure projects throughout the region and has provided leadership, technical support and grant funding throughout the broadband planning process.

For more information, visit the Region 10 website at https://www.region10.net/broadband.

 

 

Region 10 communities awarded support for Colorado Blueprint 2.0

Region 10 communities awarded support for Colorado Blueprint 2.0

Several Region 10 communities—Montrose, Ouray, and Delta—received great news from the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) on July 21st. In a press release, OEDIT announced the recipients of the Colorado Blueprint 2.0 initiative. State resources have been set aside to better serve rural communities around the state and help them identify economic solutions that make them more resilient.

To learn more, read the press release below. Congratulations to all of community members involved in the application process for these awards!

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne announces
Colorado Blueprint 2.0 initiative recipients
DENVER – Thurs., July 21, 2016 – Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne today visited the town of Delta to announce recipients of the first round of the Colorado Blueprint 2.0 initiatives. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) launched Blueprint 2.0 last year as a way to examine how best to serve rural communities around the state and identify opportunities to leverage the state’s resources.

“Blueprint 2.0 is a great example of how Colorado is going above and beyond existing resources to support the needs of our rural regions,” said Lt Gov. Donna Lynne. “We congratulate today’s recipients and look forward to seeing how these regions leverage the new services and resources to help strengthen their economies and communities.”

Colorado Blueprint 2.0 Recipients:
* Industry Attraction Initiative: Rio Blanco, Trinidad
* Competitive Advantage: Fort Morgan, Limon, Dillon
* Grow Your Outdoor Recreation Industry: Ouray, Montrose
* Strengthen Local Business Brand: San Luis Valley, Buena Vista, Delta
* Tiny Homes Community Master Plan: Morgan, Steamboat, Pagosa Springs`
* Adaptive Reuse Workshop: Brush, Delta County, Summit County
* Call Yourself Creative: Buena Vista, Rio Blanco County, Kremmling
* Incubator/Accelerator Best Practices: Morgan County, Steamboat, NWCOG
* Tourism Promotion: La Junta, Delta County, Rio Blanco County
* Community-Led Initiative: Custer County

Over the past year, OEDIT hosted 13 strategy sessions throughout the rural regions of Colorado to develop the ten different initiatives that communities would find most beneficial to apply for through Blueprint 2.0. Each initiative includes services not previously provided by the State, and leverages state resources and partnerships with organizations outside of the State of Colorado to provide technical assistance to regions who expressed an interest in pursuing the initiatives.

Many communities applied for Colorado Blueprint 2.0 initiatives, and during the application process, communities and regions were asked to demonstrate collaboration, strong local leadership and solid support for the initiative they chose to pursue.

Initiatives will be deployed between now and December 2016. A new round of Blueprint 2.0 initiatives will be unveiled in 2017.

Olathe incorporates pocket park into Main Street revitalization

Olathe incorporates pocket park into Main Street revitalization

This article was originally published in The Montrose Daily Press. Region 10 has received permission to republish this article on our own website. 

Pocket Park will be a Main Street design, activity feature

By Carole Ann McKelvey
Montrose Daily Press News Editor

The rendering of a planned improvement in a small park on Olathe’s Main Street was designed by CU students.

The rendering of a planned improvement in a small park on Olathe’s Main Street was designed by CU students.

A Region 10 grant of Colorado Department of Local Affairs money may not have seemed like a big deal to them, but to Olathe, it is funding a huge improvement in the community.

Monique English, administrative assistant for Olathe, wrote the grant for $5,000 and with a 100% match from the town, it is funding an upgrade on the small park on Main Street, the city hopes to turn into a centerpiece for downtown.

The grant comes on the heels of a $1,200 grant received last year that helped fund a renovation downtown.

As part of beautification efforts the city has organized a “Beautify Olathe Committee.”

The efforts thus far have included new planters and trashcans. Business owners and citizens have been invited to participate by adopting planters, planting and maintaining them, with the city providing watering.

Now in it’s third year, the program has caught on, English said, “and many people have adopted planters and kept them up over time. The program is very popular.”

Monique English, Olathe administrative assistant, stands in the small park on Main Street that will be rehabilitated and upgraded with a DOLA grant.

Monique English, Olathe administrative assistant, stands in the small park on Main Street that will be rehabilitated and upgraded with a DOLA grant.

A much larger grant from Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance funds totaled $318,000 and paid for a project that upgraded the main street’s gutters, roadway and storm sewers. It was concluded with repaving in 2015.

English said the little park that now exists near downtown is too small and very dark. The plans call for opening up the space, adding an information kiosk, new benches and other amenities to enhance the space.

It is hoped in the future to have bands play there for street dancing, to have small festivals and farmers market events in the space.

The city’s traditional pine Christmas tree is at the edge of the space and will remain, she said.

The park plans were drafted by students at the Colorado Center for Community Development at the University of Colorado. Student landscape architects submitted three designs from which the current one was picked, she said.

 

Community Living Services launches Senior Companion Program

Community Living Services launches Senior Companion Program

Region 10 Community Living Services is launching a new volunteer program this summer: the Senior Companion Program. The Senior Companion Program, created by the Corporation for National and Community Service, is a volunteer-based project that aims to help seniors remain in their own homes and active in their communities. The program will also provide respite for families and caregivers. Region 10 is currently seeking reliable and enthusiastic volunteers.

Senior Companion Program volunteers will expect to dedicate anywhere from 5-15 hours a week spending time with clients and aiding them with everyday tasks, from providing a helping hand to lending an ear. Qualifying volunteers will receive a small hourly stipend for their service, as well as mileage reimbursement and meal reimbursement. To serve, volunteers must be at least 55 or older, pass standard background check requirements, and be physically capable of serving.

Volunteer duties include providing companionship, personal care, nutrition care, social and recreational activities, home management assistance, and information and advocacy to the clients they serve. The program hopes to implement a system of cooperation and cohesion within the community and bring together dedicated volunteers and seniors in need of assistance.

For more information about the Senior Companion Program, contact Madison at madison@region10.net or call (970) 765-3125.

 

Nancy Murphy brings business expertise to Region 10, SBDC

Nancy Murphy brings business expertise to Region 10, SBDC

Region 10 welcomes Nancy Murphy as their new Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). With over three decades of executive business experience (with a keen eye for marketing), Murphy will play a vital role in continued support of the small business community in Delta, Montrose, Ouray, Gunnison, Hinsdale, and San Miguel counties.

Trusted with the branding strategies of big names such as Volvo, BMW, and the Olympics, Murphy has quite the business pedigree. She also holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and an International Coaching Federation (ICF) certification.

Murphy was always destined to be in Western Colorado. She simply took a roundabout way to getting here. Growing up in the heat of Texas, Murphy spent her summers vacationing in Western Colorado as a child, visiting her family who inhabited the North Fork Valley for over 100 years. Her career path took her from Fort Worth to Santa Fe, San Francisco, Chicago, Milan, New Jersey, Atlanta, and—then finally—Paonia.

“I’m hoping I’m not going anywhere else after this one,” she jokes. “I’m done with moving so much.”

Her decision to move to Paonia was serendipitous.

“I got tired of the corporate America life,” Murphy reminisces. She asked herself, in a perfect world, what would she like to do with her life? She looked down at her Chaco sandals, and proclaimed, “I love my Chacos! Maybe I can work for them.”

She visited the Chaco website, and discovered that the company had an opening for Director of Marketing. One email and a brief conversation later, Murphy was on her way to the new home that she would reside in for 13 years.

In 2006, Murphy moved on from Chaco (two years before they moved their operations out of town) to pursue her own consulting business. Maintaining her extensive network across the world, Murphy found very easy to transition into this new independent role.

As the number of her local clients she served grew, she noticed a definite need for her skillset in her community.

“What I see with businesses here is that they are constantly struggling,” Murphy adds. “And it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Shifting her focus in consulting to take on a more community development perspective, Murphy was recruited to provide her services with the Grand Junction Business Incubator. This is where Murphy first encountered the SBDC model. In addition to consulting through the Incubator, she also taught business classes at Colorado Mesa University and The Hive in Paonia.

She was introduced to Region 10 through her work with The Hive, and signed on to provide SBDC consulting to those in the Montrose area as well. When the Director position at Region 10 opened up recently, she was an obvious pick to move into the role.

“Region 10 is pleased to have Nancy join our team,” adds Executive Director Michelle Haynes. “Her expertise and vision for expansion of the small business program at Region 10 will provide a valuable resource for our local businesses and communities.”

Murphy’s vision for the local business community is simple. “I would like to streamline the way business is done on the Western Slope and elevate its success,” she states matter-of-factly. Based on her success and expertise, she hopes to “give people the tools and resources they need to meet their business goals.”

She cares deeply for her craft. “I love everything about business and the people who are involved,” she closes. “I want these people to realize their dreams.”

For more information about SBDC, Murphy can be contacted at nancy@region10.net and (970) 765-3130.

Region 10 welcomes Dan Scinto as BLF Director

Region 10 welcomes Dan Scinto as BLF Director

Region 10 welcomes Dan Scinto as their new Business Loan Fund Director. With a knack for commercial lending, Scinto brings over 25 years of banking experience to this newly redesigned post.

A Minnesota native, Scinto relocated to the Western Slope for its outdoor recreational opportunities. Scinto adds that as an avid hunter, fisher, and outdoors enthusiast, he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Aside from his eagerness to recreate, Scinto also brings an eagerness to help the business community. “I get goosebumps talking about credit,” he adds. “I absolutely love it.”

“Region 10 is pleased to have Dan join our team,” comments Michelle Haynes, Executive Director of Region 10. “His prior experience and enthusiasm for serving our local businesses will enhance the services we are able to offer to businesses in our communities, providing capital for business expansion and new jobs, in addition to the educational and consulting services available through the Small Business Resource Center.”

Scinto hopes to bring a personalized touch to his new job. “I plan on regularly visiting the businesses who we make loans to, just to check in and see how they are doing,” Scinto comments.

In addition to personal visits, he envisions developing a post-loan education program that provides additional support and technical assistance to these businesses. “One of our biggest failures in this economy is the lack of support businesses receives after getting a loan,” he adds.

The Business Loan Fund (BLF) is a unique lending mechanism available for local businesses in the six-county region of Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Ouray, Hinsdale, and San Miguel Counties. Often referred to as a “lender of last resort,” the BLF offers “gap financing” for local businesses who are already working with private lenders, but still need more capital to achieve their business goals. The funds can also be leveraged by new or existing businesses who have a strong business model and plan, but may not qualify for a traditional bank loan. Typical loan amounts range from low amounts of $2,500 up to $250,000 for businesses providing new jobs in the community.  ​

Over the years, Region 10’s BLF has developed strong relationships with local banks, helping increase the output of loans into the community. Once allocating on average six loans a year, the BLF now doles out four times this volume annually, providing well-needed capital to economically struggling communities.

For businesses that have already received a loan from the BLF or those in the process of applying, they can expect to see Scinto in the near future.

To learn more about the lending program or to contact Scinto, interested parties can do so by calling (970) 765-3126 or emailing dan@region10.net.

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