June 15, 2011
We received a letter last week that has us beaming with pride. The Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network sent us its performance review of our very own Denver Metro SBDC, and the results could not be more glowing.
The Denver Metro SBDC ranks No. 1 among SBDCs in the state for: number of counseling hours provided to clients; number of training hours provided to clients; and lowest cost per hour for counseling.
The Denver Metro SBDC also blew its goals out of the water: It exceeded its projected number of training attendees by 277 percent (with 3,320 attendees); exceeded its business start goal by 245 percent (the center helped 147 businesses open in 2010); surpassed its goal for capital infusion by 298 percent (by helping clients secure $17.9 million in funding); helped create 364 jobs (364 percent past its goal); and helped retain 1,610 jobs (1,610 percent past its goal).
The letter goes on to say: “The Denver [Metro] SBDC, under the leadership of Tameka Montgomery, has expanded the center and created successful new program services. The reviews on the program are very positive as she manages the top center in the network.”
To Tameka, and the entire staff of the Denver Metro SBDC, we say well done. Your work is exemplary, and it is so important to Colorado’s economy. Small businesses account for more than 95 percent of Colorado companies, and the work of the Denver Metro SBDC is helping to ensure the successful growth of those businesses, one client at a time.
If you are a small business owner, learn how the Denver Metro SBDC can help support your business at www.denversbdc.org .
June 9, 2011
Saturday, I will trade my heels for cycling shoes – not an uncommon occurrence for me, but for the first time ever, I will be taking part in the Ride the Rockies bicycle race from Crested Butte to Georgetown.
This 26-year-old race will cover 412 miles of our fair state over seven days with stops in Crested Butte, Buena Vista, Edwards, Steamboat Springs, Granby and Georgetown. It is an annual event that draws more than 2,000 cyclists to climb and coast our many hills and valleys, but this race is about much more than appreciating Colorado’s beauty and challenges on two skinny wheels.
Races like this mean business and commerce. Each day of this weeklong event, hundreds, if not thousands, of people will line the route to watch racers pass or to catch a glimpse of a loved one who is participating. Those people visit and spend money in the communities that host the racers. They remember the hotel where they stayed, that delicious sandwich they ate, or the fun curio shop they visited. Then, they come back again long after the race has finished.
Last year, officials reported that participating cyclists spent about $250,000 every 24 hours of the race.
Needless to say, I’m excited about next week not only as an avid cyclist but as an advocate for businesses all across Colorado. The host communities have so much to offer and this event, because it changes routes every year, is a wonderful way to showcase our state and the businesses that call it home.
This year’s Ride the Rockies is the fourth time Buena Vista’s population has been doubled by serving as a host to cyclists. Though the town has to bus some lodgers to Salida because it doesn’t boast enough hotel rooms, Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Hassell told the Mountain Mail the race is a “wonderful benefit to any town it visits.”
Granby has Buena Vista beat, with this tour making its ninth stop in the town. Local vendors have planned a gathering in Polhamus Park during the overnight stay, complete with live music and a beer garden, according to Granby Chamber of Commerce executive Sharon Brenner.
Steamboat Springs will be visited twice during the race. Race director Chandler Smith said Steamboat Springs was a natural choice for a tour stop because it provides so many activities for riders.
The Ride will make a stop in Edwards – its first in more than a decade. According to the Vail Daily, a “Taste of Vail Valley” event has been planned for the race stop to offer riders and race watchers a flavor of what area restaurants, lodges and retailers have to offer.
Georgetown is eager to put its best foot forward as the last leg of the tour, as this is the first time the town has ever served as a stop for Ride the Rockies.
Town resident Bob Gibbs volunteered to serve as a liaison between the race and the town. He told the Clear Creek Courant, “I look at it this way…Georgetown is not exactly an industrial town, but we better keep having special events if we’re going to continue to survive.”I’m off to take advantage of my last few opportunities to train before the race starts this weekend. Wish me luck!
April 20, 2011
Running an organization is hard work and it takes effort to stay abreast of all the changes in the way business gets done. We know a critical role we play at the Chamber is helping our members navigate those changes so your business can grow and achieve your goals.
The Chamber offers a variety of programs designed to help you explore current market trends and best practices and apply them to your business. Whether you are in sales or management, producing a product or delivering services, these programs can help your organization reach the next level.
Next week, we are launching the new series, the Business Growth Roundtable, which will feature in-depth expert and panel discussions on topics from generating leads to improving your margin. Also next week, the Business Excellence Forum will offer some new perspectives on social media and how you can tap into the latest trends for the benefit of your business. In mid-May, the newly updated CEO Exchange program will kick off. CEO Exchange now offers three groups designed to connect executives from non-competing companies in similar stages of development to discuss business challenges and solutions in a confidential forum.
If you or your employees are not already engaged in the Chamber’s offering of professional development programs, I encourage you to take a look at our website, talk to your membership representative or call us at 303-534-8500 to learn more.
On May 4, I also encourage you to come and hear some success stories from your fellow Chamber members at the Chamber’s annual Business Awards Luncheon – a tradition with a 29-year history. This year, we will honor 18 inspiring finalist companies in six categories (small business, emerging business, minority-owned business, green business, small nonprofit and large nonprofit).
Hearing about others’ success is not only inspiring, but can also leave us all with a few ideas of how we might have even greater successes in our own effort. We will also recognize this year’s winner of the David E. Bailey Small Business Advocate of the Year award recipient. All winners will be announced at the luncheon, and I invite you to come and celebrate these innovative and hard-working business leaders who are contributing directly to our regional business community with their products, services and leadership.
Here’s to the success and growth of all our member companies that are so vital to Colorado’s economy and quality of life.
We thought this might be a good week to provide a look back on some of the work we’ve been engaged in these past six months at the Chamber and our affiliates.
The Denver Metro Small Business Development Center just last week celebrated its 25th anniversary and received its own day in Denver. It’s not the anniversary that is so impressive; it’s the work being done -we helped small businesses access more than $17 million in capital and more than $32 million in contracts this past year. With more than 90 percent of the businesses in Colorado employing fewer than 100 people, it is critically important we continue to make our support of them a priority.
The Chamber focuses on three pillars, each of which helps to support the overarching goal of economic development and business vitality in Colorado: transportation, health care and education. Here’s a summary of our recent work based on those pillars:
On transportation, FasTracks has been high on our list this year. We’ve worked with RTD, the Metro Mayors and the Executive Committees of the Economic Development Corporation and of the Chamber to help guide our decisions regarding FasTracks. After a lot of research and analysis, we believe strongly that this isn’t the year to address the funding shortfalls for the program. Instead, we should continue to focus on our efforts to drive our economy and further increase everybody’s confidence in both Colorado and the FasTracks program.
Last month, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation hosted the third annual State of DIA luncheon to recognize our airport, which continues to grow at amazing rates. With more than 30,000 employees and a master plan for growth, this partner of the Chamber continues to be one of the most important economic drivers for our region.
Health care and the related costs remain of high concern to our businesses and their employees. During this legislative session, the Chamber signed on to support Senate Bill 200, Colorado’s Health Care Exchange bill. In Colorado, we know it is important to direct our future and not let it be decided by Washington. We support this bill because it ensures our ability to do just that, regardless of national health care reform.
Speaking of the future, we want it to be bright for our children and frankly our entire economy depends upon our ability to improve the educational outcomes we are seeing statewide. The Chamber is working closely with the implementation team for last year’s SB-191, the teacher and principal effectiveness bill that provides an important first step toward achieving better outcomes for Colorado’s students.
We continue to be focused on ensuring a return on investment for every dollar taxpayers spend on education. We believe that we can help improve the current return on our investment and are devoting our time and expertise to help do that. We know many will call for an increase in funding sooner rather than later-we believe that Coloradans would prefer and deserve to see a system with greater accountability and goal attainment before we begin to invest more in it.
Meanwhile, our economic development team has been seeing record numbers of prospects-companies interested in locating in Colorado or expanding here. That is a good sign the economy is on the upswing. We are a national leader in regional economic development efforts because we put the state and metro region ahead of individual communities; once again proving that working together pays off.
The Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation has launched a new program for this spring. Colorado Experience will take Colorado Leaders for a visit to our own backyard-an in-depth look at Colorado Springs and the innovation and investments in this community that make it great.
OK, back to work-we still have much to do.
April 6, 2011
Last week was a perfect example of the variety of opportunities the Chamber provides. I joined more than 150 Chamber members and other Colorado community leaders on the Chamber’s inaugural trip to China, and it was an amazing experience to travel and see that part of the world with so many of my fellow Coloradans.
Offered as a new Chamber discount program, the trip allows both members and non-members a chance to participate in a hosted journey to some of China’s greatest sites at a great rate.
We began our journey in Beijing, which included visits to the famous Forbidden City, former home of 24 emperors, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall. I must say the Great Wall is something many of us have always wanted to see-and it is worth the trip-but, trust me, you want to be in shape to climb the stairs and get to the top of it because the views are incredible. From there, we traveled to Shanghai and Hangzou to enjoy the Lingering Garden, Hashan Temple and a relaxing boat cruise with stops at traditional tea houses and pagodas.
We saw and met many locals (and with 1.3 billion people living in China, it’s easy to meet a few locals), some of whom demonstrated Chinese cooking and brush calligraphy techniques. We experienced a bustling Chinese market with its cages of live chickens and ducks, live fish bins and rows of fresh vegetables.
It was a cultural experience I won’t soon forget, and I am sure my fellow travelers would say the same. I am left with many memories of wonderful hospitality from the Chinese people and the camaraderie of my fellow travelers.
We had such a good time, the Chamber plans to offer the trip again this October-and trust me when I say you don’t want to miss it. Many thanks to Charles Barnes, the Chamber’s director of business development, and Rachel Watkins , membership and campaign specialist, for all their hard work in helping to plan and organize this once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can view some of the amazing photos from the trip on the Chamber’s Facebook page.
Speaking of experiences, you can also do a little sightseeing a bit closer to home: We are pleased to report that Denver B-Cycle is open again for the 2011 season, and the weather is already cooperating. Rent a bike from one of the many stations in the central Denver area and enjoy our fair city on two wheels. Best regards,