Be thankful for our growing culture of entrepreneurs

Ernesto Sirolli said it best: There is a direct link between entrepreneurship and the wealth of nations.

Let me make that focus local. There’s a direct link between entrepreneurship and the wealth of regions.

The wealth and prosperity of our little region here in Grand County can be directly linked to the spirit of entrepreneurship right here in Grand County. In Winter Park, Fraser, Tabernash, Granby, Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs, Kremmling and Parshall (yes, even in Parshall) aspiring entrepreneurs have been reaching out for help to succeed in small business. That’s what we can all be thankful for here in Grand County — a growing entrepreneurial culture.
How do I know this is happening, right here in Grand County?

First, consider this: In three-and-a-half years the Grand Enterprise Initiative has given free and confidential business management coaching to 215 aspiring entrepreneurs. In a county of 14,000 inhabitants, that’s a significant reflection of this region’s entrepreneurial spirit. The result has been 24 new businesses, 9 new jobs and more than $5 million of new annual sales for the local economy.

Second, consider the work of the DiAnn Butler and the Grand County Office of Economic Development. Just last month she helped 18 entrepreneurs take part in John Shallert’s Destination Bootcamp series in Longmont. These are all local business people who aspire to improve their businesses and succeed. That office has also helped many other local business people through hands-on classes in marketing, accounting and networking to help them improve. How many businesses and entrepreneurs have been touched through these programs? Well more than 400.

DiAnn and I work closely together to connect the dots for all of these aspiring and existing entrepreneurs so they can have the resources in line to succeed.

But the point here isn’t really our work. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit of all the local small businesses who reach out in an honest desire to succeed. Their ambition is what makes our community grow. Their ambition is what creates an increasingly vibrant economy that is growing, slowly but surely.

If you don’t think it’s growing, just consider the expansion in local revenues derived from sales taxes throughout the county in the last two years. Increases have ranged from 10% to 25% annually. These are taxes that pay for local government at the county and town levels and which help pay for important community services. Consider the fact that there are many more jobs available in the county than there are people to fill them. Consider the fact that real estate sales are climbing and that inventory is dwindling, fast.

For much of this we can give thanks for the ambition of our local small business community. And the local small business community is important. Just walk down the street of Winter Park, Fraser or Granby and start counting the “small” operations. Start adding up the numbers of employees and it quickly becomes clear that the number of jobs offered through small business here mirrors national trends. Nationally, more than 55 percent of jobs are provided by small business — and that’s a sector that continues to grow.

I don’t want to sugar coat reality in this cheer-leading session. The truth is that it’s difficult to be an entrepreneur in Grand County. A seasonal economy, a relatively small resident population, unique weather challenges, relative isolation and a spread-out and diversified county make it tougher to make a buck in business in Grand County than in many places.

And yet I’ve seen many entrepreneurs take advantage of those obstacles and turn them into opportunities to succeed. These are people who understand the market, fine-tune their products and services and then manage the money in just the right way so that their customers are happy and so that the businesses enjoy a healthy bottom line.
It’s the passion, imagination, energy and intelligence of our local residents that is driving this growing resurgence of an entrepreneurial spirit in our county.

For that, we can all be thankful.

Patrick Brower can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at

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