Grand Junction’s Business Incubator helps small businesses
WHAT: Starting a Business in Western Colorado
WHEN: 9 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 20
WHERE: The Incubator Center, 2591 Legacy Way, Grand Junction
Julie Morey, a Grand Junction resident, has helped small businesses make a start in the Grand Valley for more 20 years. She is one of 12 employees at The Business Incubator Center — located at 2591 Legacy Way in Grand Junction — who help locals hone new and existing business ventures.
“This is the best place to start a business,” she said of Mesa County.
Morey works as The Business Incubator Center’s small business development center director. She, along with one other full-time and two part-time employees, average more than 500 active clients during any given year. She consults with locals who are interested in opening small businesses in the valley, providing training and more.
“We are very reliant on volunteer hours,” Morey added.
Twelve to 15 volunteers help mostly with coaching businesses, including start-up or other business necessities like human resources, payroll or marketing, she said.
ABOUT THE INCUBATOR
The Business Incubator Center is a nonprofit organization which opened in 1987 as a way to help diversify the economy after the 1980s economic bust in Mesa County, Morey explained. Its Grand Junction location totals 46 acres with 35,000 square feet of mixed-use space available for lease to tenant clients. It also offers a Fruita satellite office, located at 325 E. Aspen St.
According to The Business Incubator Center’s website, Fruita’s office provides “nearly all services available at the Grand Junction location, including free business coaching, no- or low-cost classes and events for small businesses.”
More than 600 companies, generating more than $157 million in revenues locally, started with help from The Business Incubator Center, its website confirmed. Plus, 9,400 jobs were created through those small-business ventures.
“It’s hard to under value what they bring to the community,” said Diane Schwenke, Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce’s executive director. “We refer people there on a daily basis.”
In fact, well-known Grand Valley businesses like Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes, Grande River Vineyards, and Dave’s Jalapeño Salt got started with help from the Incubator Center.
For instance, Debbie Booher, of Dave’s Jalapeño Salt, used its commercial kitchen to bottle and label their product.
“They are very easy to work with,” she said. “When mixing peppers, we didn’t want to make people sick with the spices. They worked with our schedule to create our product.”
Trends currently observed at the Incubator Center include increased use of its commercial kitchen, and technology start-ups offering social-media and search engine optimization services.
“In the valley, these businesses are creating jobs and helping insulate the economy,” Morey said.
Another option available to entrepreneurs is the “Maker’s Space,” which is a technological work space for “makers, designers, artists and engineers” to create innovative products.
“Since the opening of the space this summer, four new companies have been created,” Schwenke said.
SMALL BUSINESSES START HERE
Interested in opening a new restaurant, creating a new product, or taking the next step to a new business venture?
The Business Incubator Center offers a workshop called “Starting a Business in Western Colorado,” which provides answers to many common questions. It costs $50 and lasts about two-and-a-half hours. It is typically held monthly. The next workshop is set for Thursday, Nov. 20, at 9 a.m. at Grand Junction’s Incubator Center.
The Business Incubator Center also provides assistance with business plans, “health” checkups, and loan inquiries.
For more information, visit http://www.gjincubator.org.
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