Business center sees 24 startups in 3 years

SCSB says record number of business people sought help in 2013

During the past three years, the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center reported that it helped at least 24 businesses get started in Montezuma County.

“A lot of folks are trying to reinvent themselves,” said Joe Keck, the director of Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center.

Over the past year, the Small Business Development Center reported, it has met with about 100 business-minded people from Montezuma County to help them get started or expand their business through strategic planning, help applying for loans and many other services. A record number of more than 500 people went to the center for services in 2013, according to the SBDC.

About 60 percent the businesses who go to the center for business counseling and other services are from La Plata county out of the five-county region, which includes Montezuma, La Plata, Dolores, San Juan and Archuleta counties.

One of the major challenges facing Montezuma County is its market size.

“It just isn’t a large enough market for some types of companies to be successful,” Keck said.

Local business advisers, who gave about 600 hours of their time this year, are part of the reason the center has been able to reach so many people.

One of the local advisers, Cindy Dvergsten, who has been an adviser for four years, raises Navajo Churro Sheep in Montezuma County and has a background in consulting. During her times as an adviser, she has worked with about 40 agriculture or food-manufacturing businesses in Montezuma and Dolores counties through a class or one-on-one mentoring. She also worked 30 other types of businesses ranging from restaurants to manufacturers on a whole range of goals including marketing, and business planning.

“It’s amazing how much talent and entrepreneurship we have here locally,” she said.

In addition to counseling, the center also helps people prepare to apply for loans.

Over the past three years, the Southwest Small Business Development Center says that it has helped 15 businesses in Montezuma County win approval for $1.7 million in loans. Throughout the region, the center helped businesses acquire about $3.8 million in loans in 2013. The center’s goal is $5 million annually for the region. Keck said many business are looking for smaller loans they have in the previous years.

The center also offers training classes, and Dversten will be teaching a Cortez planning and management course in February. Her class will be starting Feb. 15 and will be held every Saturday through March 22 in Cortez. Full tuition is $280 or $50 for a half-day session. Scholarships are available from Four Corners Community Bank and the Mancos Conservation district. The Dolores County Development Corp. will also cover the full tuition of any Dolores County resident who completes the class and turns in a business plan.

Information: Call 882-4222