Empowering Entrepreneurs through a Business Incubator


One of this year’s economic development projects is to develop plans for a “business incubator” in Estes Park.  ATP Management will be returning to Estes Park on June 7 and 8 to present their recommendations and business plan for creating a sustainable program that provides effective programming and services.  There will be a public presentation of the business plan at 7 pm, Tuesday, June 7 at the Hondius Room of the Estes Valley Library, 335 E. Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park, CO.

After meeting with close to one hundred people, ATP Management is well on its way to determining what type of program would best benefit both established and start-up businesses in Estes Park.  We’ve learned a number of things this year through the planning process and ATP’s prior visits.  First, our tourism-centered economy is adapting.  Consumer tastes and buying behaviors are shifting rapidly and a number of businesses have demonstrated their desire to adapt. The launching of two new craft breweries and (soon) a craft distillery demonstrates that local entrepreneurs are seeking new ways to appeal to consumers.

Second, in addition to our traditional main street businesses, there are a growing group of people engaged in businesses outside of the traditional tourism-centered model.  Software development, marketing and design companies, and other creative, craft and fine arts businesses already exist right here in Estes Park.  The first Estes Park Startup Meetup at Via Bicycle Café drew 46 people to talk about startups and how we can be of help to each other.  Forming relationships with other local entrepreneurs can prove valuable.  Attendees included potential mentors or local investors, as well as entrepreneurs.

Third, we have a potential community of angel investors.  We have a number of talented business leaders who either maintain second homes or have retired to Estes Park.  Forming even a small group of such investors makes us more attractive to entrepreneurs who envision growing a business from Estes Park.  Access to capital is a great need and angel investing has been a strong national trend. 

Finally, we expect to access greater resources from our region by expanding our services.  Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins all have ranked among top cities nationally for entrepreneurs and startups.  Becoming a bigger part of Colorado’s regional entrepreneurship culture will be valuable for local entrepreneurs. 

The next Estes Park Startup Meetup will be held on Wednesday, June 8 from 8 am to 9:30 am at VIA Bicycle Café, 1751 North Lake, Unit 110, Estes Park, CO.  To sign up or learn more about the Estes Park Startup Meetup, visit

On Wednesday, June 8, Estes Park Angel Investing will host its first deal pitch and innovation seminar with several regional entrepreneurs who are building new and exciting companies along the Front Range.  The meeting will be held from 4 to 6 pm at Marys Lake Lodge, 2625 Marys Lake Road, Estes Park. This will be an opportunity to listen to their deal pitches and network with other Angels focused on developing knowledge, resources, and connections to support entrepreneurs and advance innovation. 

The 3 presenting companies are clients of the Rocky Mountain Innosphere in Ft. Collins, the leading business incubator in Colorado.  If you are interested in being an Angel Investor or would like to learn more, please visit  

The Incubator project is being funded with the third and final portion of a financial award to the Town of Estes Park and the Estes Park EDC from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

What is the Relationship between Wellness and Economic Development


Estes Park was recently ranked the smartest city in Colorado by[1], a Career Expert website. There was science behind the research that went into ranking us number one and with the highest average medium age in the state of Colorado, it’s no surprise.  But intelligence doesn’t always equate into health. With an aging population come concerns about overall physical health.  Wellness certainly contributes to personal wellbeing.  So how does “Wellness” play into a community’s economic health?

One of the many qualities that people look for in a potential location of a company is the intelligence of those around them.  But companies are also looking at locations that have a healthy population.  In part, it’s a combination of intelligence and health that entrepreneurs and companies are looking for when choosing a location to live, work and play.

In 2013, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced our state’s commitment to becoming the healthiest state.[2]  The plan outlined a number of statewide initiatives to reach that goal.  Among those initiatives is a strong commitment to the wellness industry.  Wellness is a key component of Colorado’s brand for both attracting tourists and new businesses. 

Colorado’s initiative is in line with national trends.  Healthier Americans for a Healthier Economy[3] wrote a report that examined how health affects the ability of states, cities and towns to attract and retain employers, and how workplace and community wellness programs help improve productivity and reduce health spending.

The case studies in the report featured first-hand accounts from business executives, elected officials and public health leaders in Minnesota, Texas, Nashville, Indiana, San Diego and Hernando, Mississippi, where employers and communities are making the connection between improving health and improving the economy. 

For instance, William Paul, Nashville, TN Health Commissioner[4], noted that “Nashville wants to attract new business.  If we’re known as a healthy city, that becomes a positive thing for economic development.  If we’re known as a city that thinks about the health of our workforce, it will be a big plus for companies.”   The city is undertaking a range of prevention efforts – including supporting community programs, workplace wellness efforts and school-based initiatives – to help make it easier for city residents to make healthier choices. 

Many employers around the country are supporting community-based and workplace wellness programs.  For example, Peter Wald, director of wellness for San Antonio-based financial services company USAA, said, “it’s much cheaper to keep people healthy than it is to take care of them when they’re sick.  The way for us to control costs is to keep people healthy. “

That’s what makes Estes Park’s local wellness initiatives appealing to businesses.  By making wellness programs and tools available through employers, employees are empowered to make lifestyle decisions that promote their own physical health, and also the economic health of their community.  


[2] See for related reports.