Craig, Moffat County communities turn out for EDP business incubator opening
Marianna Raftopoulos honored, remembered during grand opening
September 16, 2012
“When you foster a culture of entrepreneurship you’re using your local talent and that’s what I like about this incubator.”
Scott Ford, Yampa Valley Data Partners
For two hours Friday the Colorado Northwestern Community College bell tower drew a stream of steady traffic during the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership's grand opening of its business incubator.
The event attracted Craig and Moffat County residents from across numerous sectors including business owners, local elected officials, CNCC staffers, nonprofit representatives and a handful of Moffat County High School students.
But the guest of honor Friday was John Raftopoulos, husband of the late Marianna Raftopoulos for whom the business incubator and one stop business center is named.
Raftopoulos cut the ceremonial red ribbon officially declaring the incubator open for business.
"She was really committed to helping the county, helping the state and helping the country," Raftopoulos said. "That was the most impressive thing about her. She did everything with passion and spread that to the rest of us. It's a great honor. I'm really humbled that they put her name on it."
Though Raftopoulos' children, Angelo, George and Mari Katherine, were unable to attend the grand opening, there was no shortage of support.
Audrey Anna Charchalis, who considers the Raftopoulos family an extension of her own, attended Friday's event and said the dedication was bittersweet.
"Marianna was such a force in so many ways," Charchalis said. "I wasn't in tune with that growing up because I always looked up to her like an aunt. It's nice to see that she had so many fans and that it wasn't just us who thought she was so great."
Friday may have marked the official grand opening of The Marianna Raftopoulos Business Incubator and One Stop Business Center, but EDP director Betsy Nauman-Cook has been counseling budding entrepreneurs since February.
It's a practice sometimes referred to as economic gardening, and although not every idea will turn into a successful business, incubators are beneficial to the communities where they are housed.
"The nice thing about incubators is they become that tangible place where people can learn about business," said Scott Ford of Yampa Valley Data Partners. "It's fostering those individuals that have that entrepreneurial bent that creates a culture of entrepreneurship because people constantly feed off each other's ideas.
"When you foster a culture of entrepreneurship you're using your local talent and that's what I like about this incubator."
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