When our Energize Colorado team came together in February 2022 to design the pilot for our Energize Community Program (ECP), we had two north stars: 1) to be community first and 2) to be partner inclusive.
To be community first, we focused on strengthening the connections between small business owners as well as their broader community. For each of the ECP areas, this meant that business owners would leave ECP with deep connections to one another and to the business support organizations who serve them within their local communities.
We knew that for ECP to be successful, we needed guidance and support from community partners. These are the organizations who have their boots on the ground every day and who have built trust with the small business owners in their communities. So, we hit the ground running, identifying community partners who would be interested in working with us to increase the resiliency of businesses and entrepreneurs within their area.
Between April and August, we met with over 75 organizations (including technical assistance providers, community lenders, chambers, and State leaders) for a total of over 200 hours. These conversations fundamentally shaped how we designed ECP. After meeting with The Fax Partnership’s team in April, we understood what it would take to reach East Colfax entrepreneurs who are primarily immigrants — accessibility across six different languages, door-to-door outreach, and in-person visits on a weekly basis. We followed The Fax’s important guidance, translating materials across those languages, and The Fax’s team worked alongside us to call East Colfax business owners and supported them every step of the way to get their applications successfully submitted.
Similarly, the Southern Colorado SBDC was critical in reaching and serving Pueblo businesses. Brian Estrada, Director of the SBDC, led two funding readiness workshops, provided one-on-one application support to Pueblo business owners, and made sure ECP was known to local elected officials and the public.
The Community Accelerator, the final stage of ECP, was a learning and business advisory program with content prepared and delivered by Energize Colorado and a number of our community partners. Empowering Community Entrepreneurs, OutGrow Your Garage, and our spirited Energize Colorado volunteers delivered 1-hour workshops over a period of 10-weeks.
Throughout ECP, we held three resource fairs, bringing together thirty partner organizations to meet with 150+ business owners, referred businesses to partner organizations who could lend support whether in the form of capital or technical assistance, and shared partner programs and resources with small businesses and the greater ecosystem.
Thank you to the following organizations who supported the Energize Community Program in some way – whether through supporting outreach, funding readiness education, leading a workshop, or providing critical guidance along the way.
Thank you for supporting Colorado’s small businesses with us!
African Chamber of Commerce
African Leadership Group
Apex Business Consulting
Business Intelligence Center (BIC)
Center for Community Wealth Building
City of Englewood
City of Littleton
Colorado Office of Early Childhood Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce
Denver Metro Small Business Development Center
Early Childhood Leadership Alliance
Early Childhood Service Corps Empowering Community Entrepreneurs
Gates Family Foundation
Good Business Colorado
Mi Casa Resource Center
Mile High United Way
Minority Business Development Agency
NAACP – Aurora
Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade
Outgrow Your Garage
Pueblo Community College
Pueblo West Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Pueblo Chamber
Small Business Majority
Southern Colorado SBDC
Southern Colorado Innovation Link
Southeast Colorado SBDC
University of Denver
U.S. Small Business Administration
Village Exchange Center
Check out our new Resource Compass that allows small businesses to easily navigate funding, mentorship, and educational resources available across the State. Are you interested in having your organization included? Reach out to [email protected].