Craig Rural Entrepreneurship Marketplace canceled because of low registration

The Rural Colorado Entrepreneurship Marketplace — an event planned by the Craig Chamber of Commerce, the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and the Colorado Rural Development Council scheduled for Thursday and Friday — was canceled Wednesday because of low registration.

“This is the eighth year for the marketplace. We held it in all different areas in the state,” said Michelle Alcott, business manager for CRDC. “We’ve always posted this event between 150 and 300 people. This event unfortunately only had about 30 people sign up for it.”

The event hosts a series of workshops and presentations that help small-business owners devise ideas for revving up their business. This is the first time the event was scheduled to be in Craig, but it had one of the best lineups of speakers, Alcott said.

The low registration “was something that was a surprise to all of us, to be honest,” she said.

Chris Oxley, executive director for the Chamber, expressed disappointment.

“It’s really disappointing that we had such a great opportunity to host this in Craig and we couldn’t generate enough interest,” she said.

The team had been working on the event since October. Usually, the marketplace committees work on the event a year in advance, Oxley said.

The USDA granted the CRDC $30,000 for two marketplace events in 2013 and 2014. The marketplace hosted in Burlington took up some funds, so the group was working with about $15,000 left over. The overall budget for the Craig event was about $45,000, Alcott said. CRDC invested $8,000 but decided to cut its losses when the USDA recommended it save the money for a more robust opportunity, she said.

“That’s basically money that we can’t get back,” she said.

But it wanted to cancel the event before speakers and participants started traveling, Alcott said.

“We’re just trying to make sure we get ahold of people to get them to change their plans,” Oxley said. “We’re just scrambling to get ahold of speakers and participants.”

The event charged $35 per ticket and $25 for students, which included lunch.

“Anybody who registered will be refunded,” Oxley said.

The Chamber and CMEDP didn’t invest money but did put in manpower.

We put in “staff time and resources,” Oxley said. “We did have some local sponsorships and some statewide sponsorships.”

Now, CRDC is regrouping to set up the next marketplace event’s new time and place.

“It was really an awesome event,” Alcott said. “But hopefully we’ll have it in a location that the people in Craig who signed up will be able to" attend.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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