Carbondale area business resource center gearing up
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Randi Lowenthal has seen small businesses come and go during her many years as the local chamber of commerce director and in other roles assisting the business community.
Many could have saved themselves from going out of business had they simply been directed to the right resources, Lowenthal said, pointing to Small Business Administration statistics suggesting more than 70 percent of small businesses fail within the first three to five years.
“A lot of times it’s because they don’t know how to properly manage a business, or they’re under-capitalized,” she said during a recent presentation to the Carbondale town council.
So, when Lowenthal left the Carbondale Chamber in February after 5-1/2 years as executive director, she went forth with a mission. She is currently developing a business plan for a new nonprofit venture, and is hoping to have the Roaring Fork Business Resource Center up and running by mid-summer.
“There are lots of resources out there already, so the goal is not to duplicate those efforts,” Lowenthal said. “But people don’t often know how to get to those resources.”
That’s where the Business Resource Center would come in, serving as a central referral agency that can direct business owners to the specific kinds of services they need. That can include help in starting up a new business, modernizing an existing business, finding various financing options, education training and technology, and even how to wind down and close or sell a business.
A network of resource providers will serve as an advisory council, which could work to create a customized business program for clients as well, she said. Established business owners could also act as mentors for newer businesses.
“I felt that this had to be a valley resource, and not just a Carbondale resource,” Lowenthal said. The center will operate from Aspen to Glenwood Springs to start, and possibly expand its scope in the future.
“The next two years could be worse than painful for small businesses,” she said. “But each of our communities relies on each other. We’re all in this together.”
To help in her quest, Lowenthal was recently awarded a scholarship from the Colorado Business Incubation Association to attend the 23rd International Conference on Business Incubation. The conference is hosted by the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA), and will take place April 19-22 in Kansas City, Mo.
Lowenthal is also applying for a three-year, $150,000 grant from the Colorado Economic Development Commission. She was before the Carbondale town council seeking $10,000 per year for three years from the town’s economic development fund. She will be approaching other local governments for matching grants as well.
Contact John Stroud: 384-9160
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