‘A great victory’: EDP receives business incubation grant

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The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership announced Thursday it has received a three-year business incubation grant through the Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

The grant totals $115,000 — $50,000 in the first year, $35,000 in the second year and $30,000 in the third year. Following the grant’s end, the program it will fund is designed to be sustainable.

The program, tentatively named the Craig/Moffat Business One-Stop Incubation Center, will provide services to help start and grow businesses, small business counseling and classes on entrepreneurialism and small business skills, EDP Director Darcy Owens-Trask said.

“It’s a great victory for the community,” Owens-Trask said. “It’s a testament to all those folks who have been investing in economic development in the community for the last 10 years.”

Scott Cook, chairman of the EDP board, said the incubation center will help new and existing businesses alike.

“Incubators are big deals. That’s where a lot of businesses start,” Cook said. “This is the first step to trying to get things done.”

Owens-Trask said the center, which she anticipates will be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with its own board of directors, will likely be housed at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Bell Tower building.

She said about 10 of her 24 hours per week through EDP will be allocated to the incubation center and that the grant creates a 32-hour-per-week coordinator position.

Owens-Trask said the incubation center will open sometime around February. She noted the grant award marks the first Northwest Colorado has received for business incubation. She credited letters of support from clients and other local business owners, favorable relations at the state level, assistance from the Small Business Development Centers and a conservative request — the grant application maximum is $150,000 — as reasons for her application’s success.

“Because it has to be sustainable, I didn’t want to bite off more than we can chew, and it paid off,” Owens-Trask said.

She said the program will give Moffat County the opportunity to assist more prospective business owners with more services and offer shared office equipment and meeting space to start-up business owners.

Office space will also be available for representatives of state and federal agencies to meet with clients.

Owens-Trask said the Office of Economic Development and International Trade will gauge the program’s success annually on performance criteria including the number of businesses served, the revenue of those businesses and the number of jobs created and retained.

For more information about the incubation center, call EDP at 826-2039 or 846-1663.

Michelle Balleck can be reached at 875-1790 or mballeck@craigdailypress.com.

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