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Sources of Assistance

The assistance Colorado organizations provide entrepreneurs is unlike any other state. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and free or affordable assistance to help you get your startup off the ground.

Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT)

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) works with statewide partners to create a positive business climate that encourages dynamic economic development and sustainable job growth. It strives to advance the state’s economy through financial and technical assistance in support of local and regional economic development activities throughout Colorado.

OEDIT assists in:

  • Building a strong public-private approach on a statewide basis for economic development activities
  • Monitoring economic conditions throughout the state and strengthening regional economies
  • Supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses
  • Increasing quality job creation by expanding and attracting businesses
  • Maintaining Colorado’s diverse economic base by retaining existing jobs through responsive programs and a supportive business climate
  • Positioning Colorado as a global leader in key industries, such as tourism, aerospace, bioscience and renewable energy
  • Assisting the state’s economy, while preserving quality of life

Services offered through OEDIT include:

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network

The Colorado SBDC Network is dedicated to helping small businesses throughout Colorado achieve goals of growth expansion, innovation, increased productivity, management improvement and success. The SBDC combines information and resources from federal, state and local government with those of the education system and the private sector to meet the specialized and complex needs of the small business community. Regulatory, management, financial and marketing experts work in partnership to provide entrepreneurs with crucial information that can mean the difference between success and failure. This partnership includes the State of Colorado, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Colorado’s institutions of higher education, local economic development organizations and local chambers of commerce.

The Colorado SBDC operates the Small Business Navigator, which serves as the first point of contact for information regarding federal, state and local licensing requirements for starting a business. This office provides referrals to a variety of federal, state and local small business training, consulting and assistance programs. Sixteen community-based SBDC service centers provide free one-on-one consulting services in the areas of business research, marketing, new business feasibility analysis, business plan preparation, finance packaging and other small business topics. Local SBDCs offer low-cost workshops and seminars for business owners and act as information clearing houses. Individual local offices also specialize in international trade, government procurement, manufacturing, home-based business and technology resources. The Colorado LEADING EDGE entrepreneurial training program assists businesses in completing a comprehensive business plan. The primary emphasis of the LEADING EDGE program is to provide assistance to established business owners. However, new and prospective business owners are also encouraged to participate in training programs.

Colorado SBDC Centers

International Trade Office

The International Trade Office (ITO) has two primary functions: helping Colorado companies export their products and services to international markets, and attracting foreign investment that provides jobs for Colorado residents. By promoting Colorado exports and attracting foreign investment, the ITO helps to build Colorado’s identity as an international business center. The ITO is open to the public and most services are rendered at no cost.

Geographic specialists help Colorado companies evaluate readiness to export, identify market opportunities and provide market intelligence, determine export regulations and provide information on shipping and tariffs. They perform customized market research and provide foreign contacts based on company needs. ITO staff organizes inbound and outbound trade missions to introduce Colorado companies to potential foreign buyers and distributors. The ITO actively promotes Colorado as a place for foreign companies to invest. Whether seeking joint venture partners, looking for a business location or sourcing suppliers, the ITO provides assistance specific to the needs of foreign companies to support employment grown and retention. For more information, visit choosecolorado.com.

Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media

The Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media stimulates and supports growth of all segments of the Colorado film and video industry. It actively promotes Colorado as a location for film making, commercial shoots and still photography. Learn more at coloradofilm.org.

Global Business Development

The Global Business Development division at OEDIT elevates Colorado businesses and communities by offering programs, services and incentives that foster an innovative and healthy economy where people, businesses and communities thrive. Such offerings include tax incentives and grant programs related to business recruitment, retention and expansion, foreign direct investment and data analytics services.

Grants Through OEDIT

Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity (RREO) Grants

The Colorado Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Act (HB 07-1288) funds grant projects that promote economic development through the management of materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Multiple grant opportunities are available for projects that support recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion, source reduction and the beneficial use/reuse of materials.

RREO Mini-Grants

Mini-grants offer a simplified application process for small-scale projects with a goal of resource recovery and waste diversion. Grant funds may be used for equipment, supplies and/or outreach materials.

Building Opportunities To Maximize Waste Diversion and Create Jobs In Colorado

The purpose of this grant offering is to fund infrastructure projects that focus on recycling, composting, waste minimization, anaerobic digestion, repurposing or reuse for a wide variety of materials and to create jobs in the waste diversion industry. Grant funds may be used for equipment, supplies, consultants, permitting costs, engineering, program development and outreach materials. Grant funds cannot be used for research and design.

Colorado Nextcycle - Beyond Recycling: Design. Renew. Revive

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment launched Colorado NextCycle, a business incubator designed to improve the end markets for recovered commodities and organic materials in Colorado.

  • DESIGN new technologies, products, and markets
  • RENEW recycled materials into new products
  • REVIVE local and regional circular economies

For additonal information about the RREO Program, visit colorado.gov/cdphe/recycling-grants-and-rebates.

Minority Business Office

Minority Business Office (MBO) is dedicated to advancing the efforts of Colorado’s minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses. It has an established network of public, private and government resources that can be leveraged by businesses of all types and sizes. It can help you establish yourself in the marketplace, expand your knowledge of business, get in front of the right people and help expand your prospects. The MBO offers several programs and events, including the LEADING EDGE for International Opportunities Export Grant Program, Governor’s Minority Business Awards, Advance Colorado Procurement Expo, Bid Response Advance Program and the Community Bridge Resource Program for entrepreneurs in Commerce City. For more information on these programs, visit mbocolorado.com.

Small Business Administration

The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) provides most business counseling and training programs through its various resource partners. The agency’s main mission is to help entrepreneurs start, grow and expand their businesses. SBA helps to build communities one small business at a time. It’s website, sba.gov, provides fast and easy help on all services provided by the SBA, including SBA publications, access to SBA programs and services, points of contact, calendars of local events, online training, access to other federal agency online services and data, information exchange by special-interest groups and downloadable files.

Women's Business Center

The Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Colorado is located at Mi Casa Resource Center in Denver. The WBC promotes the growth of women-owned businesses through programs that address business training, technical assistance, access to credit, federal contracts and international trade opportunities. The programs offered by Mi Casa are based on the needs of the small business community. For more information, visit micasaresourcecenter.org.

SBA's Office of Advocacy

The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration is the independent voice for small business within the federal government, the watchdog of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and a source of small business statistics and research. Advocacy advances the views and concerns of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts and state policymakers. Advocacy was created by Congress in 1976 to be the independent voice for small business within the federal government. The office is led by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy, who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The office relies on economic research, policy analysis and small business outreach to identify issues of small business concern. Twelve regional and national advocates around the country and an independent office in Washington, D.C., support the Chief Counsel’s efforts.

Office of the National Ombudsman

The SBA National Ombudsman works for small businesses to assist them with excessive federal regulatory issues. Congress established the Office of the National Ombudsman in 1996 to assist small businesses, small government entities and small nonprofits when they are subject to excessive enforcement by a federal agency. Excessive enforcement may include repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, penalties, threats, retaliation or other unfair enforcement action. As an impartial liaison, the office refers comments submitted by a small business to the appropriate agency for high-level fairness review, and works across the federal government to address those concerns to help small businesses succeed.

SBA Disaster Assistance Program

The SBA Disaster Assistance Program, administered by the Office of Disaster Assistance, is the primary federally-funded disaster assistance loan program for funding long-range recovery for private sector, nonagricultural disaster victims. In addition to presidential declarations, the program handles disaster loans when a declaration is made by the SBA Administrator. There are three disaster loan programs: loans for homes and personal property, physical disaster loans to businesses of any size and economic injury loans to small businesses without credit available elsewhere. For more information, visit www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.

SCORE

SCORE, a resource partner of the SBA, is a 13,000 member nonprofit volunteer organization with 350 chapters throughout the U.S. The program matches experienced volunteers with small businesses that need expert advice. Clients gain access to this knowledge base through one-on-one free mentoring sessions, workshops for individuals just starting out or those already in business and the Small Business Checkup Program.

SCORE members, either retired or currently active, have a broad range of experience in most industries and functions. SCORE clients also have access, at no charge, to all the resources of the national SCORE organization, which includes 4,000 members in the online mentoring program and a wealth of resource materials, webinars and reference items focused on the small business entrepreneur.

Colorado SCORE Chapters

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U.S. Export Assistance Centers

USEAC combines the trade-promotion and export-finance resources of the SBA, U.S. Department of Commerce, Export-Import Bank and, in some locations, Agency for International Development. Designed to improve delivery of services to small- and medium-sized businesses, USEACs work closely with other federal, state and local trade partners in your area. Contact Colorado’s USEAC at trade.gov.

Surety Bond Guarantee Program

This SBA program guarantees bid, performance and payment bonds for contracts up to $2 million for eligible small businesses that cannot obtain surety bonds through regular commercial channels. By law, prime contractors to the federal government must post surety bonds on federal construction projects valued at $150,000 or more. In addition, many states, counties, municipalities and private sector projects and subcontracts also require surety bonds. Contractors must apply through a surety bonding agent, since the SBA’s guarantee goes to the surety company. For more information on the SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee Program Office, visit sba.gov/funding-programs/surety-bonds.

Procurement and Technical Assistance Programs

Office of Certification

The Office of Certification administers the Colorado Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification Program. This certification process determines the eligibility of minority and women owned businesses to participate as DBEs on projects for the Colorado Department of Transportation, Regional Transportation District and the Denver Water Board.

8(a) BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

The SBA 8(a) program assists the development of small firms owned and operated by individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. By extending government contract preferences and other business development support, it helps these firms gain access to the economic mainstream. Typically, a small business must have been in operation for at least two years before applying to this program. To learn more, go to sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/8a-business-development-program.

SBA SBIR

The U.S. Small Business Administration plays an important role as the coordinating agency for the SBIR program. It directs the 11 agencies’ implementation of SBIR, reviews their progress and reports annually to Congress on its operation. SBA is also the information link to SBIR. SBA collects solicitation information from all participating agencies and publishes it quarterly in a Pre-Solicitation Announcement (PSA). The PSA is a single source for the topics and anticipated release and closing dates for each agency’s solicitations. For more information on the SBIR Program, please visit sbir.gov.

HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AND WASTE DIVISION

The Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division is one of the four environmental divisions of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The division’s primarily responsibility is enforcing state regulations in the areas of hazardous materials, solid waste and materials management, radiation and remediation. The division’s mission is to improve the quality of the environment and public health for the citizens of Colorado by continuously improving its efforts to ensure proper management of hazardous materials and waste.

Federal Government Information

A large amount of federal information from the US government is available via the internet. An excellent index to federal internet information is Usa.gov, located at usa.gov/business?source=busa.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) home page is found at sba.gov. The SBA home page provides information on SBA financing and counseling services nationwide.

  • The SBA’s online Women’s Business Center is a free, interactive training site for women on the web. You can reach this page at sba.gov.
  • The IRS is located at irs.gov. Federal income tax forms can be downloaded from this site. You can also order the Small Business/ Self- Employed Tax Calendar CD-ROM, introduction to Federal Taxes CDROM, Virtual Small Business Workshop CD-ROM, and the Small Business Resource Guide CD-ROM by calling 1-800-829-3676.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides environmental information and assistance at epa.gov.

TAXPAYER EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION (TEC)

The mission of TEC is to educate and inform Small Business and Self-Employed (SB/SE) tax payers and representatives about their obligations by developing educational products and services focused on customer needs, and by providing top quality pre-filing service to help tax payers understand and comply with the tax laws. TEC has many CD-ROMs and publications to assist small business owners with their tax obligations. A list and description of items available can be found at irs.gov.

Local Economic Development Programs

Business Incubators

Business incubators provide facility and management assistance for emerging growth companies. They offer new and existing companies affordable office, manufacturing or kitchen space, resource libraries, shared services and office equipment, meeting rooms and access to professional administrative services. The objectives of these centers are to stimulate small business growth, assist with the beginning stages of start-up, direct new businesses toward realistic and achievable goals and support cultural and neighborhood revitalization. Each center provides services to a very specific clientele. Business incubators are helping build healthy, lasting businesses and they are doing it for low cost and with a good return on investment to supporters. For more information and to check on space availability, contact the incubator administrator in your area.

Economic Development Offices

Economic development offices provide a variety of different services to the businesses in their areas, including permitting assistance, relocation, demographics, site location information, counseling and support services. A few offices administer small loan programs. Some are agencies of local city or county governments. Some are independent, nonprofit organizations that receive funding from local governments and/or chambers of commerce. Contact the Small Business Hotline at 720-665-7439 for the EDO nearest you.

Chambers of Commerce

Chambers of commerce provide a number of opportunities for business owners. Your local chamber is where you can meet and network with other business owners from your community. Some chambers provide additional services including counseling, training programs and guest speakers on useful business topics. Contact the Small Business Hotline at 720-665-7439 for the phone number of the chamber of commerce in your community.

Specialized Assistance Programs

Connect2Dot

The Connect2Dot program is an innovative partnership between the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) designed to help small businesses in the transportation industry become more competitive and successful in contracting with CDOT and other local transportation agencies.

In addition to free unlimited consulting and business training, the Colorado SBDC Network provides online resources and events tailored to construction contractors and professional design, architecture and engineering firms. If you’re just starting your business and want to explore opportunities with CDOT, or if you’re an experienced subcontractor looking to grow and expand your business, Connect2DOT has the expertise and resources to help.

Consulting and training services and courses include but are not limited to Designated Businesses Enterprise and Emerging Small Business Enterprise Certification, contractor pre-qualification, cost accounting, certified payroll, finance and bonding, operations, procurement, marketing to prime contractors, estimating, bidding, contractor compliance and contract management. In addition to training and consulting, the program also provides technical support in downloading project plans and navigating online bidding using bid express and other platforms. For more information, visit connect2dot.org.

Small Manufacturer's Advantedge

The Small Manufacturer’s AdvantEdge program is an innovative approach to business assistance and unique partnership administered by Colorado Manufacturer’s Edge, the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network, World Trade Center Denver, and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The program provides small manufacturing companies with industry experts for coaching, consultation and training.

The type of coaching and training assistance includes business strategy, advanced marketing analysis, operational excellence, export gap assessment and compliance, quality systems and certifications, facility layouts, new product development, supply chain management, and market diversification. Each manufacturer can receive us to 40-hours of support. To qualify for the program, companies must have less than 20 employees, be located within the state of Colorado and have a qualifying manufacturing NAICS code. For more information, visit manufacturersedge.com/small-manufacturers-advantedge/.

SBDC Techsource

The Colorado SBDC Technology Program (SBDC TechSource) is a multi-faceted program maximizing the economic potential of Colorado companies through direct assistance to technology ventures as well as assistance in utilizing new technology available to business owners.

The program is broken down into two distinct subprograms – Cyber: CYA and Commercialization.

The Cyber: CYA (Cover Your Assets) program is built to assist small- and medium-sized businesses by focusing on topics for all levels of business and their needs from cloud computing, security measures using social media, to securing technology to meet compliance standards in government contracting.

TechSource: Commercialization is designed to maximize the economic potential of Colorado science and technology companies—especially those in the advanced industries. Subject matter expertise is provided through consulting, workshops and events to provide tangible help for small innovative businesses and entrepreneurs. For more information, visit sbdc-techsource.org.

Job Training Programs

Colorado Community Colleges and Occupational Education System

Colorado offers a wide variety of education and training programs for youth and adults through the Colorado Community College and Occupational Education System. The system provides training in more than 400 specific occupations ranging from basic entry level skills to highly technical positions. It also provides industry specific training programs to entry level employees and helps current employees upgrade skills. Additional information is available through the Small Business Development Centers and the community colleges listed below:

Aims Community College, Greeley                                                                      aims.edu

Colorado Northwestern Community College, Rangely                                   cncc.edu

Mesa State College Area Vocational Technical School, Grand Junction      coloradomesa.edu

Northeastern Junior College, Sterling                                                                     njc.edu

Otero Junior College, La Junta                                                                                   ojc.edu

Front Range Community College, Westminster                                    frontrange.edu

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE)

The CDLE operates a statewide network of Workforce Centers (WC’s), providing a number of free employer services, including:

Screening and Referral

Employers may list their job openings with a local WC and obtain assistance with screening and referral of qualified applicants. Interviewers will match experience and capabilities with the job requirements specified by the employer. Employers make the actual hiring decisions.

Mass Recruitment

Employers may take advantage of mass hiring services while expanding their businesses or newly locating in Colorado.

Affirmative Action Hiring

Employers may list an Affirmative Action Job Order with a WC to assist in meeting affirmative action hiring goals.

Employer Roundtable Seminars

Workshops are available to employers on a regular basis on topics such as unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, equal employment opportunity, etc. NOTE: Services not available at all Service Centers.

Layoff Assistance

WC staff can assist employers who are about to lay-off some or all of their employees with developing information packages, job search workshops and retraining referrals.

America's Job Bank

Employers who wish to recruit nationally may have their requests posted at WCs throughout the United States and via the Internet. For location and phone number of the Workforce Center in your area, visit americasjobbank.com.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) works with statewide partners to create a positive business climate that encourages dynamic economic development and sustainable job growth.

The SBA provides most business counseling and training programs through its various resource partners. The agency’s main mission is to help entrepreneurs start, grow and expand their businesses.

There are several agencies that provide certification, government contracting and procurement and general technical assistance for small businesses.

Two excellent indexes to federal internet information are the US Business Advisor and Fed World.

Colorado offers a wide variety of education and training programs for youth and adults.

There are several local economic development programs to help small businesses, including business incubators, local economic development offices and chambers of commerce.

Specialized SBDC programs focus on transportation contracting, manufacturing, tech and more.