Southwest Colorado Economic Developers Unite – The Journal


The Center for Innovation brings together programs that help small businesses

An array of groups, programs and nonprofits designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs once scattered across Durango are now found under one roof at the Fort Lewis College Innovation Center, located in the space freed by GitPrime in the main shopping center.

“Our goal is to house all the resources available to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the region,” Steve Elias, dean of the School of Business Administration, said at the Center for Innovation’s official opening on Thursday.

In the 7,000 square foot space, originally renovated by GitPrime in 2019, the Center for Innovation will house the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center, the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs, Hawk Tank and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Entrepreneurs. Resource Center, which is currently under development.

The center will also house representatives from FLC’s School of Business Administration, notably as the headquarters of the school’s new major in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development.

“We wanted to create a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and small business owners. It’s important for us to be able to help a business at any stage from start-up to maturity, ”Elias told over 100 people who gathered at the Main Mall for the center’s unveiling.

Jeff Kraft, director of business finance and incentives for the State Office of Economic Development and International Trade, noted that consolidating all of the small business assistance programs available in Southwest Colorado under one roof also allows the OEDIT state office to provide it with one location. to provide information about the state agency’s help to businesses.

He noted that raising awareness of OEDIT’s business support to rural communities beyond the Front Range is one of the main goals of Governor Jared Polis’ administration.

“For a small town in Colorado, Durango already has an unprecedented track record for building start-ups,” Kraft noted, citing the creation of the payment processor Mercury, now part of Worldpay, which was acquired in April 2019 by Fidelity National Information Services Inc., more commonly known as FIS, in a $ 35 billion deal.

Kraft noted that OEDIT can use the Center for Innovation as a hub to provide information on the possibilities of the Opportunity Zone for small businesses and entrepreneurs in La Plata County.

Durango and southern La Plata County are listed as areas of opportunity.

An Opportunity Zone is a federal tax incentive for investors in low-income urban and rural communities that offers favorable treatment of reinvested capital gains and a new capital gains tax exemption that was created by the administration with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. from 2017.

Under the new tax law, any company or individual with capital gains may be eligible. The program offers three tax advantages for investing unrealized capital gains in areas of opportunity:

Temporary deferral of taxes on previously realized capital gains. Investors can place existing assets with accumulated capital gains in opportunity funds. These existing capital gains are not taxed until the end of 2026 or upon disposal of the asset.Excluding 10% of capital gains realized in a company in an Opportunity Zone if the investment has been made for at least five years and excluding an additional 5% of capital gains, if the investment has been carried out for at least seven years .Excluding permanently taxable income on new earnings. For investments held for at least 10 years, investors pay no tax on the capital gains realized through their investment in areas of opportunity.David Sitton, owner of Aspen Wood Products in Mancos and Aspen Wall Wood in Dolores, said bringing all the programs that help new and growing businesses together under one roof will make it easier for new businesses to profit. expertise provided by regional economic development agencies.

He noted that Aspen Wood Products and Aspen Wall Wood initially got help from the Small Business Development Center to develop a marketing plan and help with the legal framework needed to ship internationally.

Aspen Wood Products and Aspen Wall Wood, he said, now have customers in Mexico, New Zealand and potentially Dubai.

“It’s easy to poop with a business plan, but if you’re going for it, it’s really important. You need an accurate forecast of cash flow, you need to know what it takes to ship internationally, ”he said.

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