Grand County’s grassroots economic development program that offers free and confidential business coaching has helped more than 300 clients in its first five years. The Grand Enterprise Initiative is a non-profit business development program that strives to build strong communities in all of Grand County by nurturing entrepreneurs who want to start a new business or expand or tune-up an existing enterprise.
“Not only have we helped more than 300 entrepreneurs,” said Enterprise Facilitator Patrick Brower, “we’ve also helped those clients open 66 new businesses in those five years.”
“We work with anyone in the county who calls up and asks for business coaching help,” Brower says. “It’s free because new business people frequently don’t have the cash to pay for consultants. It’s confidential to protect the integrity of a person’s plans or idea.”
The program follows the methodology of Enterprise Facilitation, a grassroots economic development program developed by Ernesto Sirolli of the Sirolli Institute. There are hundreds of Enterprise Facilitation programs in place around the world. The Grand Enterprise Initiative is the only such program in Colorado. “We are happy with the work we have been able to do for the business community in Grand County,” says Merrit Linke, the chairman of the five-person management board for the Initiative.
“We only help people who call us up and ask for help. We work with them as long as they want to work with us.” Some of the clients who have worked with the Grand Enterprise Initiative include Eagle Wind Sound and Hideaway Park Brewery in Winter Park, Holden’s Hard Drive in Fraser, Winter Park Adventure Quest in the Fraser Valley, Little Sprouts Preschool and Daycare and Granby Bait and Tackle in Granby, two coffee shops and one restaurant in Grand Lake, two restaurants in Hot Sulphur Springs and a wood reconditioner, two restaurants and a brewpub in Kremmling. Most of the clients served by the Initiative are people wanting to start new businesses, although the 35 percent of existing businesses working with the initiative is a high number compared to similar programs across the U.S. and Australia. Fifty-two percent of the program’s clients are female. On average, Brower meets with a client four to five times.
The program works closely with DiAnn Butler of the Grand County Office of Economic Development through shared client referrals, assistance with resource needs for clients and help with planning and grants at the county office. The program is a 501(c) 3 non-profit. It is funded through grant funds and donations from a variety of sources.
“I want to say ‘thanks’ to Grand County, which understands help for the business community in the county reaps financial benefits for the county and the entire business community,” Brower says.
“The Freeport-McMoran Foundation has also been a consistent supporter of our program,” Brower says.
“Thanks. They too understand the values of helping businesses survive and thrive, as does Mountain Parks Electric.” The collaborative funding support through the towns of Grand County also reveals the way in which our municipalities understand the value of successful small businesses not only for community development but also for the tax revenue that can be gained from small business.”
Brower continues to work with clients offering free and confidential business management coaching. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at [email protected]