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Welcome to the Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace

Interested individuals are in Pagosa Springs this weekend for the Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace, to garner tips on how to start a business, expand their business or take their business to a much larger scale.

Some people will be coming to the conference intending to take away specific educational information, others to get as much as possible out of the 70 sessions that will be offered.

There are many topics to choose from — all offered by experts to assist you in growing or starting your business.

There will be educational tracks including Marketing, Technology, Finance, Agriculture, Business Development and Community Development. With each of these main topics there will be specific sessions. In Marketing, there will be subjects such as the various aspects and tools of social marketing, developing a brand, working on advertisements and websites. In the Agricultural sector, there will be sessions focusing on the national proliferation of farmer’s markets, growing local, sustainable goods, and, of course, renewable and geothermal energy.

We encourage communities to send their leaders, since there will be many interesting ideas on how to further community development. Topics in this arena would include how to better develop local youth, educational and training opportunities, financing and public/private partnerships.

Also, on Friday, there will be a special Youth MarketPlace with young representatives from a Blanding , Utah, business — Lickity Split Chocolate. This company was developed over seven years ago by a group of young adults who were looking for a way to make extra money. Their “hobby” is now a full-blown business with a store front and Internet sales. Former “Young Entrepreneurs of the Year” will also be in attendance. Scholarships are available to any youngster interested in attending and there will be an iPad giveaway, compliments of Devansoy.

Many people in the community have worked for over a year to make this conference happen in Pagosa Springs. Many long hours, much planning, scheduling and juggling has been taking place.

Now, it’s time.

If you haven’t registered for the conference, don’t worry — walk-ins are very welcome. The cost of the conference is $30 for one day and $50 for both days of the MarketPlace. The price of the ticket includes all meals — breakfast, breaks, lunch and the evening receptions. Friday’s reception will take place at Pagosa Brewing Co. and Saturday’s reception will be held at SHY RABBIT Contemporary Arts. There will also be two business tours included in the ticket price. Friday’s tour will be at Parelli Natural Horsemanship International Center and Saturday’s tour will be at Growing Spaces.

If you still need any information, call the Chamber at 264-2360. We welcome all attendees and hope the conference will get you started or help expand your business to the next level.

Many thanks go to Colorado Rural Development Council’s coordinator Michelle Alcott. She has worked tirelessly to help make this conference happen. We appreciate the council choosing to come to Pagosa and all of Ms. Alcott’s hard work.

The business voice

Now, and in the near future, there will be several opportunities for business owners to voice their concerns, share their success, let the community know what we are doing well and what could be improved upon, and give suggestions regarding the needed improvements.

First off, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton has announced an “Open Mic” interactive website for small businesses. On this site, you can voice your opinion on federal regulations, view the latest information regarding small business, and weigh in on issues facing the Congress in regard to obstacles facing entrepreneurs. Technology in this instance is a great tool, since you can get and give current information — like a blog. Many of the issues on the site reflect concerns about federal regulations, lack of bank or financial support for businesses and the SBA quagmire. If you would like to view the site or weigh in, visit http://smallbusiness.house.gov/OpenMic/.

In the next couple of weeks, Pagosa Springs residents will review our community feedback in the Governor’s Bottoms Up process from several months ago. Over 385 people responded to this survey. From this survey, we are able to discern the major strengths, weaknesses, obstacles and ideas that face our town. Some initial observations were proposed to regional and state sources based on these survey results.

The next step will be to prioritize these results and present them to the community for more feedback. These suggestions are meant to remove obstacles that hinder economic growth, diversify our community and build on the strengths that Pagosa has.

When the ideas and priorities are released, we hope everyone will actively weigh in. It is the intent of the working group to organize Pagosa’s input, then take it back out to the community for even more ideas, action plans and involvement to keep the community moving forward and to remove some barriers that exist in our community. This will be a working document for our town. Stay tuned for the release of the report. We hope we will get lots of interaction from residents and business owners.

At the end of the year, the Chamber will issue a short online survey to member businesses for feedback. We want to grow, help our businesses and focus on the issues that are important to our constituents. We cannot improve without your feedback and we want to address and work on issues that really affect our businesses. We want to hear what we are doing right and how we can improve. Please be thinking about some constructive feedback and about programs or issues that we can address.

All of these projects require your participation to be effective. We hope you will take the time to get involved. It will take more than just a few individuals to address our issues and improve our community.

Chamber board

This is a reminder that the Chamber is looking to fill three positions on the 2012 board.

The Chamber board will see three board members leave and will look to fill those spaces with three new members. Application forms are available in hard copy at the Chamber of Commerce or you can download them online from the Chamber’s website.

The Chamber board looks to fill the board with a diverse representations of businesses in our community. We then can have good insight into the various issues facing our community and we will have a wide range of ideas and opinions. The Chamber board is a working board. Be prepared for regular meetings, feedback from business constituents, to assist at events and planning and budget sessions. This is not just a “name-only” board. We want input and representation.

Again, if you are interested in applying to be placed on a slate of six candidates, we would love to hear from you. The ballot goes to the Chamber membership in December and voting will continue until mid-January, when we have the annual meeting. Should you have any questions concerning the board of directors, please contact me at 264-2360.

Membership

We have one new business to welcome to the Chamber this week and several renewals.

Pagosa Verde, LLC is a company that coordinates renewable energy and sustainable agriculture projects. They provide investment management, marketing and consulting in emergent technologies and promote green initiatives. These renewable projects would include those using solar, geothermal, agriculture and greenhouse methods. We welcome Jerry Smith and Sally High as the owners. To get your project off the ground or grow it, contact Jerry at 750-6857 or at pagosaverde@skywerx.com.

Our renewing members this week are Mike and Laura Haynes with Eagle Mountain Mercantile; Waste Management of New Mexico; new area operations manager for the Western Slope of Colorado with CenturyLink, Peter Beaudette; Bonnie Masters and Pagosa Springs Real Estate Online; and Visitor Center volunteer Barbara Mason.

We still have a few months available for a 2012 SunDowner. If you are interested in hosting a SunDowner, call Jan at the Chamber and she will be able to tell you which months are available.

Thanks to all the members who came out and signed up early. We also look forward to seeing many business owners at the fourth annual Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace Oct. 7-8. Get ready to be wowed!

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