SBDC Leaders Receive State Star and 40 Under 40 Awards
DENVER -- Four leaders in the Colorado Small Business Development Center (CSBDC) network were recognized this month for their tireless efforts to support Colorado’s small businesses throughout the pandemic. The America’s Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) network selected Brian Estrada, director of Southern Colorado SBDC, for a 2022 State Star award and bestowed three 2020-2021 40 Under 40 awards on young SBDC leaders.
"We are beyond excited to see our SBDC team members receive this well-earned recognition. Their daily contributions have helped Colorado’s small businesses recover from the pandemic and thrive, contributing to Colorado’s strong and growing economy. The no- and low-cost resources offered through the SBDC network help businesses grow, which in turn create positive impacts in their communities and expands the state's GDP,” said Nikki Maloney, Business Support Director at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, which supports the SBDC network. “Congratulations to these SBDC leaders!”
The State Star is awarded to individuals who demonstrate exemplary performance, make significant contributions to their networks, and are deeply committed to the success of America's small businesses. Estrada, who joined the Southern Colorado SBDC in September of 2020, took the reins during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. He immediately set to work supporting a new team of employees and working with community partners to introduce small businesses in southern Colorado to SBDC programming and help them navigate the pandemic.
While that initially meant focusing on Covid education and helping business owners communicate with their customers, Estrada soon recognized additional opportunities. Collaborating with city, county, and state partners, he and the Southern Colorado SBDC raised funds and launched several new programs. An e-commerce program helped 54 businesses in Pueblo, Custer, Fremont and Huerfano counties develop e-commerce platforms where they had none. A female founders class taught women business owners necessary skills for growing their businesses. And when Estrada learned that 42% of individuals in the Southern Colorado SBDC region lacked tech devices like computers, tablets and phones, the Digital Empowerment Program secured 1,000 computers to be distributed across southern Colorado. He credits community partnerships and collaborations for these successes.
“It is an honor to be a part of the SBDC team and the many community partnerships that made these programs possible, and an honor to receive the State Star Award,” Estrada said. “When community and statewide organizations work together, we reach more businesses and individuals and that leads to a much greater impact. I’m genuinely excited to go to work each day because I get to work with great partners, help people start and grow their businesses, and see the end results of everyone’s hard work. I just love it.”
New this year, the ASBDC also introduced the 40 under 40 awards to celebrate innovative and talented young professionals within the nationwide SBDC network. Three Colorado SBDC staff received the 2020-2021 40 Under 40 award for their contributions to the more than 670,000 small businesses served across Colorado:
- Lisa Hudson, East Colorado SBDC Center Director
- Joey Jenkins, Colorado SBDC State Director
- Wendy Wojcik, Colorado SBDC Senior Program Manager
In Colorado, small businesses make up 95.2% of all businesses and employ approximately 1.2 million people, or 48% of all Colorado employees. Nearly 60% of those businesses are owned by women, minorities or veterans. In 2021, the Colorado SBDC network helped the state’s small businesses secure $157,486,431 in capital formation and $82,295,136 sales increase.
The Colorado SBDC network works to ignite change and spark action so those small businesses can confidently start, grow and recover from the pandemic, with an emphasis on providing no-cost and low-cost consulting, training and workshops in every county. Entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in growing their business using Colorado SBDC resources can get started by calling the Small Business Navigator at 720.665.7439 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.