Center a resource for existing, start-up firms

Posted 11/6/09

Thanks in part to the efforts of the South Metro Small Business Development Center, 165 jobs have been created and 92 jobs retained so far this year. …

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Center a resource for existing, start-up firms


Thanks in part to the efforts of the South Metro Small Business Development Center, 165 jobs have been created and 92 jobs retained so far this year.

The center, housed in the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, provides classes and consulting services for owners looking to expand their businesses, merchants seeking to keep their businesses going and individuals like Elizabeth True and her fiance Miguel when they were looking to start a business.

Their business, Axiom Roofing, began in 2008 with just the two founders. True said much of the credit for the success of their company goes to the guidance and assistance provided by the business development center that has helped the firm grow to eight full-time employees and four part-time employees.

Like many people, True was a victim of the economic downturn and was laid off from her high-tech job last year.

“My fiance and I had been talking about starting a business for a while and, when I was laid off, we thought long and hard before we finally decided opening our own business was the thing to do,” True said. “We wisely made the decision to get started by visiting the South Metro Small Business Development Center. I looked at the courses and materials then I signed up for the 15-week business start-up course.”

She said the course helped her develop a sound business plan and establish a solid foundation for the new company.

“While I was in class, we started making connections and doing part-time jobs on weekends,” she said. “In July 2008, we incorporated our company and on New Year’s Day, we went full time.”

Miguel, with 23 years in the roofing industry, oversees that portion of the company while Elizabeth directs the administrative portion of the firm.

True said the business is growing and thriving and she is excited about the future of the company.

But she said she still regularly draws on the expertise available through the Small Business Development Center to make sure the company stays on the right track and continues to grow responsibly.

Sharon Gnatt-Epel also went to the center to help get her manufacturing and distributing business started.

She said she had no background in the manufacturing area and turned to the center for guidance to help her do things right.

That was in 2007. Now, she heads the company manufacturing and distributing natural skin care products for women over 30. She also has signed up three to five people as independent contractors to work with the company.

She also gives back to the center as she now is a business coach and works to help locate possible grants for minority and women-owned businesses.

The South Metro Small Business Development Center is part of the statewide network of 16 centers.

Centers are a cooperative venture between the state of Colorado, the U.S. Small Business Administration and local communities. Partial funding is provided by a SBA grant, with the remainder of the money coming from local organizations and donations from area businesses.

The local center is housed in the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce offices, but Marcia McGilley, center director, noted those seeking services do not have to be chamber members.

So far this year, the local center has seen 503 clients. About half of the clients represent existing businesses while the remainder are looking to start new businesses.

The center provides classes as well as consulting services. This year’s 503 clients have received 1,560 hours of consulting services.

“Requests for our services are up quite a bit this year,” McGilley said. “At this time last year, we had provided about 1,000 hours of consulting services to 457 clients.”

She said the center helped businesses arrange to receive about $3.5 million in loans, including about $382,000 in SBA loans.

The result is the effort helped generate $3.8 million in sales and clients were awarded $3 million in government contracts.

For information about the center and its programs, go to the Web site at, call the center at 303-548-5300 or e-mail them at


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