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A nonprofit that focused on providing low- and no-cost education and other resources to Jeffco businesses and entrepreneurs is shutting down at the end of January. However, its president said the …
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A nonprofit that focused on providing low- and no-cost education and other resources to Jeffco businesses and entrepreneurs is shutting down at the end of January. However, its president said the entities that funded the nonprofit will be contracting with a similar local organization that will take over providing many of its offerings in Jeffco.
For 14 years, the Jefferson County Business Resource Center has provided services ranging from counseling to classes for businesses, including the popular Launch! Your Ticket to Small Business Success nine-week course.
“We helped new businesses with creating a marketing plan, doing business financing and all the elements of opening a small business,” said Steve Art, who served as the center’s president. “And then with existing businesses we could help them look at whether their business model they opened with 10 years ago is still optimal, or maybe they want to bring a new product line and we help them do research into whether that is feasible.”
The center, which contracted with individuals and organizations to provide its services rather than having a full-time staff, was funded by Jefferson County, the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation and the cities of Lakewood, Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Golden.
Art told Colorado Community Media that the decision to close the JCBRC was made because “it was just not a sustainable model anymore based on funding sources.”
“Over the past few years, we’ve had to dip into our reserves in order to provide the quality of services needed by our business community,” Art explained in a press release about the closure. “Impacts to our funding from our partnering municipalities and the county, along with the budgetary restraints due to the pandemic have forced us to close our doors.”
But the county’s businesses will not be stranded without services as Jeffco and the JCBRC’s funding municipalities will be partnering with the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center to provide business support services in Jeffco. Art said some of the funders of the JCRBC have already been directing some funding to the DMSBDC, which also contributed to the decision to close the Jeffco business center.
Art said that while the move will mean some changes, such as the discontinuation of the Launch! Program, the DMSBDC will continue to offer coaching as well as programming addressing most of the key needs experienced by small business owners in Jeffco.
According to its website, “the DMSBDC combines information and resources from federal, state and local governments with those of the education system and private sector to meet the specialized and complex needs of the small business community.” It is a localized branch of the larger Colorado Small Business Development Center, which serves the whole state.
Jansen Tidmore, the president and CEO of the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, said the overall offerings and services should be similar enough that users of the service will not notice much, if any, change.
“For them were anticipating a smooth, easy transition,” he said. “It’s just kind of how it works behind the scenes that is changing.”
Tidmore said that because the DMSBC is a larger entity than the JCBRC, it will also bring more resources to the table than the JRBC was able to.
Amira Waters, the executive director of the Jeffco BRC who did much of the coaching, said in a letter to the center’s clients that she was sharing the news of the shutdown of the Jeffco center with “a heavy heart.”
“While this unfortunate, Jefferson County is a resilient and business responsive community and I am hopeful about the changes that can come from this transition,” she wrote.
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