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RBC | Starting a new business anywhere is always challenging. Starting a new business in a county as small as Rio Blanco presents its own unique trials. That’s why the Rio Blanco County Economic Development Department has taken on the task of creating the Rio Blanco Small Business Development Center.
“The purpose of this program is to provide additional resources to the business owners in Rio Blanco County and start providing entrepreneur support,” said Keely Winger, Coordinator and Certified Consultant for the Development Center. Winger and County Economic Development Coordinator Katelin Cook are developing the program.
Services offered by the Center will include training, consulting, technical support, networking events, start-up assistance, business feasibility analysis, assistance with access to capital and government contracting assistance. Cook said that all local businesses are eligible to participate, “as well as people interested in starting a business. There are no specific criteria (they just have to sign up with us, which is really easy).” Services are free to the business owner for one on one consulting and many of the other options. However, some workshops might have a small fee to help cover expenses.
The Small Business Development Center is being sponsored by Rio Blanco County in partnership with the Meeker and Rangely Chambers of Commerce. Both communities will host office locations; Meeker at the Rio Blanco County Courthouse and Rangely at the Chamber of Commerce office. Additionally, the county has historically received Small Business Administration funds annually from the state that total $10,000, which they plan to use for the program. “The county is helping offset the cost of this as well,” said Cook. However, she did not say to what financial extent.
“Through various community partnerships Rio Blanco County SBDC will conduct mobile office hours through our SBDC On The Go program,” said Winger.
According to Winger the short term goal for the Center is to spend the next six months getting the program started and building awareness of the opportunities available to local businesses. They will also begin offering one-on-one consulting, free of charge to business owners. “Eventually we want to roll these services into co-working spaces in both communities,” she said.
Winger is eager to get the program up and running. “We want to express how excited we are to have this program in Rio Blanco County. Rio Blanco County has been an under served area for many years,” she said.
The first official workshop offered by the Center will take place on Nov. 30 from 3-6 p.m. in Rangely and Dec. 6 from 5-8 p.m. in Meeker. The workshop features the theme “Is Your Business Google-ized?” where business owners will learn how to optimize Google for their business. The workshop is free and anyone interested should contact Winger at 970-878-9582 or keely.winger@ rbc.us.
The Center was kicked off last month when Rio Blanco County was awarded the Certified Small Business Community Award by the State of Colorado. The award came with $15,000 in cash and $8,000 in additional business resources. According to a Press Release Issued by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the program “assists rural communities who want to expand their entrepreneurship promotion and retention and be a standard bearer for the State of Colorado and is funded by the Economic Development Commission’s Strategic Fund.” Other winners include the City of Fruita, and Lincoln and Prowers Counties.