A $519,000 federal grant is part of a $1.7 million project that will support an innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem in southern Colorado.
The Southern Colorado Innovation Link (SCIL), sponsored by Pueblo Community College, was awarded the grant as part of the Regional Innovation Strategies Program run by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Through PCC’s Pueblo Corporate College, the money will support the SCIL – a collaboration of more than 20 diverse organizations that help entrepreneurs with all aspects of business development.
The Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a partner in the project, has piloted programs for inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, creatives and makers (IIECMM) that have shown promising results. That success led to the creation of the SCIL as a way to reach and assist more entrepreneurs throughout the region. The SBDC has been hosted by PCC since 1989 and operates at the school’s Downtown Studio.
The SCIL’s goal is to make southern Colorado a preferred destination to incubate and grow innovative ideas, products and business. SCIL partners have pledged more than $1.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions to supplement the EDA grant.
“Through this grant opportunity and the tremendous support of all of the partners involved, we are excited to see the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem move to the next level of innovation and collaboration,” said Amanda Corum, executive director of Pueblo Corporate College.
In addition to PCC and the Corporate College, the broad scope of SCIL partners includes Startup Pueblo, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Evraz, the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation, PuebloPlex and Watertower Place.
The SCIL will serve Pueblo, Custer, Fremont and Huerfano counties. The focus of the EDA project will be advanced manufacturing and infrastructure engineering, two of the most well-developed innovation clusters in southern Colorado.
Through southern Colorado’s extensive business network, partners will connect entrepreneurs to resources such as work space, networking, training, marketing, funding and legal services.
Of 160 applicants nationwide, just 24 received the EDA grants.
Pictured above (from left to right) Kurt Madic, Startup Pueblo; Ryan McWilliams, Watertower Place; Chaimie Pewitt, Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center; Amanda Corum, Pueblo Corporate College; Pattie Erjavec, Pueblo Community College President; Jenny Sherman, PCC; entrepreneur Joe Woelfle and Patrick Waggoner, Economic Development Administration [PHOTO COURTESY PUEBLO COMMUNITY COLLEGE, STEVE BIGLEY]