Grand Enterprise Initiative counsels local businesses to achieve goals
The economic situation in Grand County has been steadily improving since a low mark was reached shortly after the Great Recession hit the global economy in 2008.
Working to continue the upward trend in local economics is the Grand Enterprise Initiative (GEI) and Enterprise Facilitator Patrick Brower. According to their website the GEI “supports new and existing businesses in Grand County.” They “provide free and confidential business coaching to anyone that wants to improve their existing business or start a new business.”
The GEI provides a business counseling and facilitating service.
“I don’t try to do marketing or sales for clients. I don’t presume to tell them whether their product or service is good or bad, but I help them find people who can do those things.,” said Brower.
The GEI helps budding and established entrepreneurs connect with marketers, accountants and other business consultants. The service is free and confidential.
“I don’t say anything around town unless the client says it is OK,” said Brower.
The GEI does not provide any form of funding to clients and does not seek to entice new businesses to the county by offering either subsidies or incentives.
“A lot of research has shown that those businesses only last as long as their subsidies, then they leave and go look for subsidies somewhere else,” said Brower.
By the numbers
Statistics for the GEI were recently released covering 2014 as well as summary statistics covering the entire life of the program. The statistics cover all “clients” of the GEI.
Brower defined “clients” as anyone who has contacted the GEI and discussed their business methodology and has had substantive discussions with him.
One such client was Mike Ivy, owner of Granby Bait and Tackle. Ivy first contacted Brower and the GEI in July 2013. Ivy had previously owned his own landscaping business in Denver but had no experience in retail sales.
“They (GEI) helped me lay out accountants and a business plan,” said Ivy. “They did so much stuff for me. They helped me find the retail shop and with hundreds of contacts up here in Grand County.”
Ivy contacted the Granby Chamber of Commerce as he began looking into opening a business in Granby and the Chamber directed him to the GEI.
“Once I was with Patrick I didn’t bother talking to anybody else,” said Ivy. “It was definitely the way to go for me.”
Granby Bait and Tackle opened in November 2013. The business employs three people including Ivy.
During 2014 the Grand Enterprise Initiative worked with eight new businesses in Grand County where 24 news jobs were created, generating a total of $70,000 in new capital and $415,000 in new sales, according to the statistics. Over the three year life of the program the GEI has worked with 17 new businesses that resulted in 51 new jobs created, generating $391,000 in new capital and $1,240,555 in new sales. The GEI claims 161 clients during the last three years.
Brower explained that while the statistics are positive they don’t tell the whole story.
“Many of our clients are existing businesses instead of startups,” said Brower.
“Even though I give you the numbers, and I’m pleased with the numbers, we don’t rely solely on openings and closings and the number of new jobs as a barometer of success. The number of clients served is probably a better barometer,” he said.
Brower also pointed out that success can mean different things.
“Sometimes success is when a business acquisition is decided against because it just won’t work,” said Brower. “People need to have a realistic expectation of what can happen.”
The GEI utilizes the business methodology of Ernesto Sirolli of the Sirollli Institute. That methodology focuses on a “trinity of management” as the best foundation for any business: a good product and service, good strong sales and marketing, and strong financial management.
The Grand Enterprise Initiative is a community based nonprofit. The program is funded by Grand County, the Town of Granby, the Grand Foundation, the Town of Grand Lake, the Town of Fraser, the Town of Winter Park, the Town of Kremmling and Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (the company that owns the Henderson Mine).
Brower is overseen by a management team comprised of Granby Town Manager Wally Baird, Granby Mayor Jynnifer Pierro, Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke, Granby Ranch CEO Kyle Harris and Granby Ranch owner Marise Cipriani.
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When the Braidwood Condominiums in Winter Park were built in the 1980s, the building lacked hallways wide enough for wheelchairs, walls between units were slim and the fire suppression system couldn’t compare to modern requirements.