There’s Never Been A Better Time to Start Up in Western Colorado [Infographic]
Startups have flourished along Colorado’s Front Range cities for decades, though the mountain communities to the West have remained isolated from this boom. Colorado’s entrepreneurial momentum has consistently been stifled at the foothills.
One year ago I endeavored to discover startup communities in the Western Slope towns I knew and loved. I was astounded at all the local initiatives I found then, and the activity has only picked up. By my own informal count, just within the last year, Western Colorado has added:
- 2 Accelerators
- 6 coworking spaces
- 2 Venture Funding Partners
Through the creative persistence that can only be found in small-towns, Colorado’s mountains are now flush with entrepreneur-friendly resources, and ripe for startup economies to power more diverse and sustainable local economies.
Here’s what Colorado’s Western Slope Entrepreneurial Landscape looks like today:
This doesn’t take into many initiatives set to launch within the next year too.
The state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and leaders of the Startup Colorado initiative, including candidate for State Attorney General Phil Weiser and Boulder-based venture capitalist Brad Feld, have pledged to support the rural entrepreneurial support network, similar to Startup Colorado’s efforts on the Front Range. OEDIT will seed $700,000 for the effort over five years and Feld will work to raise an additional $500,000 from private investors.
Topping it all off, the Colorado Venture Capital Authority, supported by OEDIT, will allocate 9 million dollars for rural investment (including Rural Eastern CO too). Originally issued in 2005 as part of a larger state-issued fund, the 25% rural allocation was largely underinvested, lacking a well established rural funding partner. This time around, entrepreneurs outside of the Front Range can expect there to be ample support and leadership, with the final investor(s) to deploy the rural funds to be selected by Jan. 2, 2018.
While recreation and tourism have continued to dominate the economic spotlight, countless Western Slope community leaders have built an impressive network of coworking spaces, accelerators, events and more to support local entrepreneurs. With this grassroots foundation already laid, the combination of the addition of the “Startup Rural Colorado” initiative and “Rural Fund” will make 2018 a banner year for growing rural startup communities in Colorado.
There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in Western Colorado.
Colorado’s Western Slope is on track to become a leader in rural entrepreneurship, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
The true power of a successful startup community comes from the space between its branded initiatives — the space where ideas get shared and serendipitous collaborations occur amongst inspired minds. The space where the community resides. While Western Slope community leaders have already created an impressive network for innovation, it is going to take total buy-in from Western Slope citizens to fill this space with innovation to create the premier model for rural entrepreneurship.
You can support Western Colorado entrepreneurship by 1) sharing this post, 2) clicking the “clap” button, or 3) reach out to us or any of the listed organizations to get involved
Many thanks to the community leaders who shared their efforts and helped us consolidate these resources.
A previous version of this article stated that the original VCA rural funding allocation went uninvested. Several rural Colorado companies did received investment, though the allocation was underinvested.