Durango and La Plata County wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for entrepreneurs and, thus, small businesses. The state (translate: the big city) is often dumbfounded by what our folks here have been able to do to carve out an amazing business to live, work and thrive in a wonderful environment.
More than 80% of our 820 chamber members have less than 10 employees. That alone tells you how important our entrepreneurs are in this county and to the workforce.
As we know, the Front Range is often the deciding factor on issues (read that: regulations, taxes, funding) that impact our small businesses here in our corner of paradise. We need to maintain a voice. New year – new resolutions. Be involved. Let your voice be heard.
The chamber and its sister organizations such as the Small Business Development Center, Business Improvement District, Local First, as well as the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs are out there doing what we can to assist.
In fact, SCAPE notes that La Plata County is normally not eligible for programs that might help as we are not considered rural or disadvantaged. SCAPE is working to demonstrate this “rural urban divide” and change how the state looks at “rural.” Redefining rural will enable our entrepreneurs to benefit from funding given to other areas across the state to enhance the economy.
My message: make yourself heard, be involved. I hate to use a wizened adage, but it remains true: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
This doesn’t mean the chamber and I don’t do what we can on our own, but it sure helps when our small-business members keep up to date and participate. Of course, you can’t attend all the meetings that will help you stay informed (as a thriving small business, who has that kind of time?), but the chamber has a monthly service that is a concise and pertinent report on our website: https://www.durangobusiness.org/governmental-affairs-committee.html. We’re doing the leg work to keep our members up to date about regulations, decisions and legislation that could eventually impact you and your business and weighing in on issues that affect you.
And I can’t stress enough to pay attention to what’s going on at the state level. Circling back around, Denver often makes decisions in a void, absent of the Western Slope entrepreneurial spirit (and difficulties) small businesses in our area encounter. And don’t stop at Denver. Did you know we have local offices for Sen. Cory Gardner, Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Michael Bennet? They are in Washington D.C., but locally they are open for us to share concerns and ask questions.
As I sign off, I want to give a shout out to the nominees for the Durango Rocks! awards event. Nominees are local entrepreneurs who have come up through the ranks and are providing great jobs and propelling our economy. Visit the nominees in this month’s chamber newsletter.
Our small businesses and Chamber members drive our economy. Thank you to all the inventive and entrepreneurial brains out there who keep making this community a thriving place to live. But remember, we need to pay attention and stay involved. Our voices are just as important as those in the “big cities.”
Success to all in 2020!
Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.