Local nonprofit tallies over 300 clients, help with 66 new businesses

For the past five years, the Grand Enterprise Initiative has been a resource for entrepreneurs in Middle Park, providing counseling and consultation to facilitate business development.

As the nonprofit looks ahead to the future, Enterprise Facilitator Patrick Brower took some time to look back on all the organization has accomplished.

“We helped more than 300 entrepreneurs,” Brower said. “We’ve also helped those clients open 66 new businesses in those five years.”

The Grand Enterprise Initiative was set up in 2012 and follows the methodology of Enterprise Facilitation. In essence, the Initiative is a nonprofit business development program “that strives to build strong communities in all of Grand County by nurturing entrepreneurs,” according to Brower.

“We work with anyone in the county who calls up and asks for business coaching help,” he said. “It’s free because new business people frequently don’t have the cash to pay for consultants. And it’s confidential to protect the integrity of a person’s plans or idea.”

Over the past half-decade, Brower has noticed a few trends emerge in the local business community. When the nonprofit kicked off, approximately 45 percent of all the clients were existing businesses. Brower said that figure has now dropped by 5 to 10 percent.

“People who are already in business are succeeding more,” Brower said. “And more people are interested in starting a business.”

Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke, who also serves as chairman of the Enterprise Initiative’s management board overseeing Brower’s work, was pleased with the success that the initiative has achieved.

“We are happy with the work we have been able to do for the business community in Grand County,” Linke said. “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.”

Brower said he has seen an increase in those seeking the services of the organization as the overall economic situation in Grand County has improved.

Restaurants and analogous businesses that offer consumable products, such as breweries and distilleries, have been and continue to be the most common industry in which the initiative’s prospective clients are looking to become involved.

Brower said he sees the quality of products or services offered by local businesses, along with the longevity of a given business, as the biggest factors for success in the county.

“A new business is going to take two to four years before it will see any positive cash flow,” Brower said. “Businesses need to have operational money saved up to get through those two to four years. It takes time, but it works, it happens.”

Brower touted several local businesses he has closely worked with to facilitate their emergence and growth in the local markets, specifically highlighting Granby Bait and Tackle, Never Summer Brewery and Sunshine Herb.

Brower said the success of the Enterprise Initiative is largely dependent upon the funding that the nonprofit organization receives, mostly from local governments around the county.

“We work closely with DiAnn Butler and the Grand County Office of Economic Development,” he explained. “We appreciate that support.”

Brower also highlighted contributions they have received from Granby, Grand Lake, Fraser, Winter Park, Kremmling and the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation as major supporters of the nonprofit.

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