Big ideas at heart of new Yampa Valley business concept
CRAIG — There’s a new business concept for Yampa Valley entrepreneurs serious about research, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and growing the local economy.
West Portal Industries — named after the historic Moffat Tunnel, which was the “portal to the west” — aims to support business development with strategic partnerships that result in tangible actions, such as patenting, manufacturing and development of new products.
“I think there’s a place for business incubators, but we are more hands-on,” said West Portal Industries Principal James (Jim) Stoddard.
The idea grew from a belief that entrepreneurs must do more to grow the regional economy.
“The reason nothing profound has been done in local manufacturing terms is not because our community leaders have failed. … The breakdown has been in the hands of the private sector — the local entrepreneurs, like me, who have worked hard to advance their own endeavors but failed to heed the calls, take the initiative and step up to the multi-product manufacturing plate … for the community,” wrote Stoddard in an opinion piece published recently in the Craig Press.
Stoddard and West Portal Industries Principal Wesley Harper are both inventors who hold multiple patents, and they are not alone.
“There are more people in the valley, per capita, with patents than anywhere else in the state,” Stoddard said.
Patent development can be a secretive process and for good reason.
“If you have an idea and you blab it around, and someone puts it in the newspaper, and it’s been published, it makes it impossible to patent. That’s one reason,” Stoddard said. “Another reason … with product development, it pays to keep your nose to the grindstone and your mouth shut.”
With a large list of project ideas, fellow patent holders, and basic business infrastructure in place, Stoddard and Harper are now leading the effort to develop workspaces. They are open to the idea of public/private enterprises, such as working with a school or college.
“This could be a way to teach kids manufacturing and how to apply contemporary technology while supporting an 8 to 5 business that manufactures something tangible for market,” Stoddard said.
It’s Stoddard’s hope that other entrepreneurs and private investors will now come forward and become part of a renewed effort to diversify the economy.
“For all these years, I’ve been passionate about entrepreneurship, and I’d hear about a report, and I’d hear we need to develop manufacturing, and I’d say, ‘That’s great,’ and then nothing would happen. I’d say, ‘Gee, I thought they were going to do that.’ This is my bad; this is our bad,” Stoddard said. “I’m excited that we finally figured it out.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.