Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs: Discovering One of Boulder’s Resilient and Innovative Pillars

Originally published by Daily Camera on May 8, 2024.

As the new VP of Economic Vitality for the Boulder Chamber, I’ve had the privilege of calling Boulder home for the past three months. With its stunning mountain views, active outdoor lifestyle, and vibrant community, Boulder is undeniably one of the coolest places to live, work, and play. However, what has truly captured my admiration are the incredible small businesses and entrepreneurs that help make up the resilient, proud, and innovative foundation of Boulder.

As National Small Business Week takes place from April 28 to May 4, 2024, you might be wondering, “Why are small businesses and entrepreneurs so important to Boulder?” Well, let me share my fresh perspective:

Community Connection: Small businesses here aren’t just places to shop; they’re where entrepreneurs spark ideas over coffee, new friendships form, and community bonds can strengthen. As a newcomer to Boulder, I’ve been warmly welcomed by small businesses which have shown me what makes Boulder so special.

Unique Character and Cool Factors: Small businesses bring a unique flair, character, and spirit of innovation to Boulder, offering one-of-a-kind products, services, and experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. From artisanal crafts and locally made goods, to innovative tech startups and sustainable fashion brands, Boulder’s small businesses showcase the city’s creativity, diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit. Whether you’re a foodie, outdoor enthusiast, art lover, or fashionista, you’ll find plenty of local businesses in Boulder that cater to your passions and preferences.

Fueling the Local Economy: Small businesses are key contributors to Boulder’s economy by creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and supporting other local businesses and suppliers. They are essential drivers of economic growth, innovation, and prosperity in our community, helping to diversify and bolster the local economy.

An Innovative Business Scene: Boulder is about creativity, collaboration, and pushing boundaries. We’ve got this amazing mix of entrepreneurs, innovators, and dreamers who are all about turning their ideas into reality and making a difference in the world. Just last week, the University of Colorado Boulder recently lit up with entrepreneurial energy as its New Venture Challenge reached its thrilling climax! Five visionary teams battled it out and were awarded $165,000 in cash prizes for showcasing groundbreaking solutions to food waste, home ownership expansion, hotel pricing, soil health detection, and tech-assisted sports management. Stan Hickory, the driving force behind The New Venture Challenge, has created a vibrant launchpad for transformative startups and innovators.

When it comes to supporting our local business ecosystem, the Boulder Chamber recently launched a Professional Services Sector Partnership to build a stronger foundation for local businesses in the banking, human resources, staffing, and financial services spaces. The group was led through a thought-leadership discussion by John Tayer, Boulder Chamber President and CEO, where they identified strategic areas to drive innovation and growth.

The Boulder Chamber is also leading a Food Beverage and Hospitality Sector Partnership to support local Hotels, Restaurants & Beverage, and Retail businesses. This proactive initiative addresses key industry challenges like staffing, customer trends, and regulations. Thanks to a Strong Sectors, Good Jobs grant, the Chamber is introducing new adult apprenticeship programs and implementing regional TIPs and ServSafe Manager trainings to strengthen the industry.

So, how can you get involved and support small businesses in Boulder?

Shop Local: Whenever possible, choose to shop at local small businesses. By supporting local businesses, you are contributing to job creation, igniting economic growth, and enhancing the vibrancy and vitality of our community.

Shine a Spotlight: Promote your favorite local businesses and entrepreneurial startups with friends, family, and on social media. Recommendations and positive reviews are incredibly impactful for small businesses and can help grow their customer base.

Get Involved: Participate in local events and promotions organized by small businesses to show your support and help create a strong community of loyal customers.

As the new VP of Economic Vitality for the Boulder Chamber, I am incredibly excited and inspired by the resilient, proud, and innovative small businesses and entrepreneurs that make up our city. By supporting small businesses, you are bolstering our local economy and contributing to a stronger, more vibrant, and connected community.

Joseph Hovancak is vice president of economic vitality for the Boulder Chamber.

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