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Small-business resources abound at second-annual Englewood expo

Owners, prospective entrepreneurs get leg up at Englewood event

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Dozens of business owners and business hopefuls came together on an early weekday morning to get the lowdown on resources in the metro area at an event hosted by the City of Englewood in partnership with several business-minded groups.

Some business owners say, “We had no idea there were this many resources for our business,” said Marcia McGilley, executive director of the Aurora-South Metro Small Business Development Center. That organization helped put on the second annual Englewood Business Resource Expo, which took place at the Englewood Civic Center March 15.

The city showed off its updated business-resource guide, a panel of lenders and new workshops in partnership with the Aurora-South Metro SBDC, which conducts low-cost training for businesses, said Darren Hollingsworth, economic-development manager for the City of Englewood.

In a crowd with more than 15 booths including the Better Business Bureau, Mi Casa Resource Center and the Englewood Chamber of Commerce, about 50 attendees rubbed elbows with experts. Manufacturer's Edge, an organization that provides training and information for manufacturers to grow their businesses, has worked with Englewood businesses and attended the event.

Englewood is home to more than 180 manufacturing companies — the highest density of such companies in Arapahoe County, McGilley said.

“I think a challenge manufacturers are having is finding a quality workforce,” said Cindy Nowak, regional director for southern Colorado at Manufacturer's Edge. It's “an availability issue. Low unemployment makes it hard to find quality machinists and welders.”

Apprenticeship programs at educational institutions can help, but there's still a gap, Nowak said. Englewood's light manufacturers — those with 50 employees or less — will be a focus of consulting services and training starting in about a month through a partnership of the Aurora-South Metro SBDC, Manufacturer's Edge and the city, McGilley said. That effort will lead toward an October event where light manufacturers can get together, network and tour a large manufacturer, she added.

The small-business economy in Englewood as a whole is looking strong, according to Hollingsworth.

Englewood has a lower vacancy rate for retail, office and industrial locations than Arapahoe County as a whole. The city's retail-vacancy rate of 4.8 percent falls below the county's 10 percent, the city's 5.9 percent office-space vacancy falls below the county's 10 percent and in the industrial realm, vacancy is 2.6 percent in Englewood compared to the county's 4.7 percent, Hollingsworth said.

“Englewood has a tightening market (with) comparatively low vacancy rates. That's healthy,” Hollingsworth said. “But it also creates challenges for site selection" for businesses that want to move to Englewood.

Some residents may see vacant storefronts on South Broadway and think business is in decline, but that may be space that's already leased or has a plan in place for someone to occupy it, Hollingsworth said.

“Sometimes, that takes a lot longer than we'd like to happen,” he said, adding that it typically takes 18 months between the time of getting a building permit and the time a business opens, with some variation.

The city also has grant programs available for businesses, Hollingsworth said.

Cacharel Bynum isn't from Englewood, but she still got a taste of the expertise at the expo. Bynum, of Aurora, wants to start a business to work with low-income families that don't have fathers in their lives. She aims to assist them with emotional instabilities through writing and public speaking.

“I feel great,” Bynum said at the Englewood event. “It was really rewarding to see they brought so many people who could help.”

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