Published: Oct. 26, 2023 By ,

2023 Rural Colorado Workshop Series participants in Craig, Colorado

Nine years ago, the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the Leeds School of Business launched the first-ever Rural Colorado Workshop Series (RCWS) in Chaffee County, Colorado. In the town of Buena Vista by the Arkansas River Valley, entrepreneurs gathered to learn how to grow their ventures. In this historically agriculture-based economy, the first workshop attendees launched ideas unique to their water-loving, mountain town community. The success of this workshop launched the larger vision that promotes economic growth in Colorado’s rural communities.

Leeds School of Business faculty Erik Bruno teaching to a room of Rural Colorado Workshop Series participantsFast forward to 2023, the ninth year of RCWS, and communities in Montrose, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Telluride, Craig and Sterling have enhanced the businesses in their communities by hosting yearly workshops across the state that focus on everything from value proposition to scaling to marketing and much more! Thanks to the University of Colorado Boulder’s Office for Outreach and Engagement, the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship received a $5,000 Community Impact Grant in the ninth year of RCWS to continue driving impact in Colorado’s rural communities. This grant will further support economic growth in rural Colorado communities for future years as the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship continues to provide first-rate entrepreneurship education throughout rural communities.

But why rural communities? According to the 2021 United States Bureau of Economic Analysis, 12 of Colorado’s 64 counties contribute to 88.69 percent of Colorado’s Gross Domestic Product. These 12 counties are all located in urban areas such as Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction. Colorado’s rural counties have historically relied on agriculture, mining, oil and gas, and similar industries, which have seen significant reductions in the labor force over recent decades. Alongside local partners such as regional Small Business Development Centers, chambers of commerce, venture networks, and Native tribes, implementing RCWS in rural communities seeks to spur economic growth and empower the next generation of economic leaders.

Erick Mueller on his motorcycle driving to the Rural Colorado Workshop SeriesFounder of RCWS and Executive Director of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship Erick Mueller had this to say about the award:

“I want to give a huge thanks to CU Boulder’s Office of Outreach and Engagement. The Deming Center and its faculty and staff have made huge impacts in Colorado’s rural communities, helping over 700 rural and Native entrepreneurs. This $5,000 grant will help us make an even bigger impact, and we cannot wait to see what the amazing future RCWS participants do.”

The Deming Center for Entrepreneurship’s five-year commitment to each rural community brings Leeds School of Business faculty to various parts of the state who provide the university’s world-class education to these burgeoning entrepreneurs. Thanks to the $5,000 Community Impact Grant, RCWS can continue strengthening its current community partnerships and launch in new locations as the five-year workshops in Telluride and Sterling conclude in 2023. This financial support of the workshop series will help the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship to continue creating unique cohorts of entrepreneurs across Colorado that support and prompt each other and other ventures in rural communities.

You can learn more about RCWS, current workshops, news, and stories by visiting their website. Interested in starting RCWS in your rural community? Reach out to the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship’s Program Coordinator Katie Morton at kmorton@colorado.edu.

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