Owning and operating a business is challenging in itself, but being a business owner that is underrepresented in small business as well as their own industry adds even more challenges. For Miriam Rodriguez, these hurdles are worth conquering to do the work she loves.
Miriam is the owner of CIMBRA Inc., a Brighton-based construction business offering landscaping, environmental, and land reclamation services. For over 5 years Miriam has had difficulties being a female, BIPOC leader in the construction industry. Despite being extremely qualified, she is often overlooked due to discrimination. In an effort to prove she is fully equipped with all the skills to bring to a customer, Miriam has utilized the SBDC for many courses and connections.
"I feel happy and I feel like I am finally getting to where I wanted to be."
She first completed the Leading Edge course through the North Metro SBDC, which gave her a renewed outlook on the industry and armed her with new-found confidence. After completion of the course, Miriam continued to meet with SBDC consultants and has earned seeral certifications, including Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise, Small Business Enterprise, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, and Emerging Business Enterprise by October 2023.
For years, Choice Athletics owner Dennis Dempsie watched local baseball teams struggle to stay competitive with the short practice season that is afforded by local weather in the mountains of Colorado. He felt that young athletes with aspirations to play college or higher-level ball were disadvantaged without an indoor facility to train. The idea for Choice Athletics was born.
"Do your research. Reach out to the SBDC and other business owners. Even if they aren't in your industry, there are plenty of tidbits you can pull from. Start talking to anyone, and you will find local support."
He first contacted the Southwest SBDC to get information about starting a business. The SBDC connected him with consultant Bob Jagdfeld, who assisted Dempsie in getting a business plan together and a spreadsheet to work on projections and financials. Ultimately, Dempsie was able to get a loan from Region 9.
The next obstacle was finding a space that would be in the right location, did not need extensive renovations, and fit within his budget. After two and a half years, at the end of 2022, Dempsie found what he was looking for and was able to open the doors to Choice Athletics in May 2023.
Founded in Rifle, CO in 2017, EcoPoint is a technologically advanced environmental firm specializing in geographic mapping and analysis for large-scale and small-scale projects. The company employs GIS specialists, soil scientists, and biologists to complete projects for a client base consisting of public land users such as oil and gas companies, hard rock mines, renewable energy, right of way, and private landowners. All of whom need to meet reporting requirements and restoration compliance. Owners Kirsten and Michael Clancy first approached the Northwest SBDC, hoping to improve the company's financial processes and workforce strategies after experiencing 1200% growth over five years and outpacing their current abilities. At the time, EcoPoint had 15 employees and exponential demand. The Clancy's were also interested in how to brand the company better to help it advance its position and reputation in the overall marketplace and launch a new revenue stream, including contracting with government agencies.
"As a quickly growing company, EcoPoint has benefited immensely from the tools and consulting offered through the SBDC. From scaling strategies to onboarding procedures to department budgeting, the SBDC provided time and consideration to our individual needs."
Through working with multiple SBDC consultants, EcoPoint achieved three goals important to its operations. The company developed and implemented a budget and expense review process to effectively manage and control its expenses over several departments and managers. It ensured employees remained motivated and engaged throughout the implementation of the new processes, and lastly, created a new position within the company to execute new marketing and brand strategies.
Additionally, Kirsten and Michael became familiar with critical employment laws to support an active employment scenario and attended an SBDC Network event connecting environmental companies to government agencies. About her experience, Kirtsen said, "As a quickly growing company, EcoPoint has benefited immensely from the tools and consulting offered through the SBDC. From scaling strategies to onboarding procedures to department budgeting, the SBDC provided time and consideration to our individual needs."