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Supporting Small Businesses Across Colorado: Polis Administration Awards 40 Digital Marketing Grants

Governor Polis and the Business Support division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) recently announced the 40 recipients of the digital marketing grant that is distributed through the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program. This grant awards small businesses in Colorado $5,000 to help business owners across the state establish an online presence with a focus on social media and website best practices.

READ: How To Develop a B2B Social Media Marketing Strategy

“Small businesses help Colorado’s economy thrive and programs like this help support their continued success. I am thrilled to announce the 40 grant recipients from every corner of our state from La Plata County to Morgan County,” said Governor Polis. “As a businessman, saving small businesses money is a top priority.”

The Digital Marketing and Online Presence training course supports small business owners by teaching them the fundamentals of online marketing allowing them to promote their products and reach new customers. Business owners learn a variety of ways to establish an online presence, including best practices to increase website traffic, improve user experience and develop e-commerce websites to help their businesses grow. 

A total of $200,000 in grant funding has been distributed to 40 small business owners across the state. Among the recipients, 67.5% identified as woman-owned, 45% identified as minority-owned and approximately 22% of business owners came from rural communities.

“We are pleased to support so many women- and minority-owned small businesses across the state,” said OEDIT Executive Director Eve Lieberman. “This latest round of grant recipients showcases the work we are doing to ensure that we are reaching communities that have historically faced barriers to business funding. We are proud to support our entrepreneurs which have successfully reached so many women and minority-owned small businesses.” 

READ: Unlocking the Power of DEI: Building Better Programs for Business and People

The Digital Marketing and Online Presence training course is one of three training programs offered through the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program which helps small businesses across Colorado grow and improve their business plans through free training, education and consulting. Small businesses can apply for any of the three online training programs which include: access to capital, market research and digital marketing and online presence.

After completing the seven-week training course, 40 participants were selected to receive grant funding to make changes based on strategies learned from the program. The Small Business Accelerated Growth Program was created by SB21-241, sponsored by Senators Rhonda Fields and Jeff Bridges and Representatives Naquetta Ricks and Lindsey Daughtery. The program is implemented in partnership with the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network.

“Our SBDC experts are excited to help businesses navigate the world of digital marketing. Small business owners learn everything from establishing a social media presence to understanding the best ways to increase website traffic, and building an e-commerce experience. The lessons taught in this course equip business owners with the tools to operate in a 21st century environment and find the right customers,” said Marcia McGilley, Executive Director, Aurora-South Metro SBDC.

READ: This is Why Your Website Isn’t Getting Any Traffic — And 3 Ways to Fix That

The 40 grant recipients announced today include: 

  • A Moment Stopped, LLC, Grand Junction
  • Anthology Framing and Portraits, LLC, Englewood
  • BAR-U-EAT, Hayden
  • BC Home Services, Longmont
  • Body Suite, Westminster
  • Carolister LLC, Castle Rock
  • Christensen Ranch, Weldona
  • Denver Innovations, LLC, Highlands Ranch
  • Digital Learning Academy LLC, Bayfield
  • Edwards Consulting Group, Pueblo
  • Elevated Engravings, Vail
  • Eye Candy Aerials, Colorado Springs
  • Faith and Quinn Ltd., Pleasant View
  • Foco Food Truck Rally, Fort Collins
  • Found My Keys, LLC dba UFA Transit, Colorado Springs
  • Four Corners Business Solutions DBA: Durango Accounting, Durango
  • Gianinetti’s, Ltd., Meeker
  • Heather Freeman, Contemporary Art (Legal Business: Freeman Creative DBD The Painted Playground), Durango
  • Hemp Wolf LLC, Denver
  • KB Business LLC, Thornton
  • La Dogueria, Commerce City
  • Light Speaks Loudest, Denver
  • Local NEWS Network, Durango
  • Manos Emprendedoras LLC, Aurora
  • Momentum Gym LLC, Alamosa
  • My Momotaro LLC, Colorado Springs
  • New Leaf Mindfulness Coaching, Montrose
  • Not The Same LLC, Cañon City
  • Ovierre Industries, Salida
  • R Garcia Painting, Aurora
  • R&M Systems, Inc. DBA Happy Roots, Grand Junction
  • ReyNava Solutions, LLC, Littleton
  • SoulRide Psychotherapy, Durango
  • Tacos Los De Reza, Aurora
  • The Hillbilly Grill LLC, Grand Junction
  • The Woolly Planner LLC, Pueblo
  • Tulipan Herbals, Centennial
  • Vibrant Earth Seeds LLC, Cortez
  • Wise Aspirations LLC, Steamboat Springs

Registration for the second round of the Digital Marketing and Online Presence training course is open now through August 20, 2023. Eighty participants from the second round of training will be selected to receive Digital Marketing and Online Presence grants of $5,000 each. Interested businesses can learn more about the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program at and sign up to receive email notifications as future rounds open for applications.


About Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade:

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) works with partners to create a positive business climate that encourages dynamic economic development and sustainable job growth. Under the leadership of Governor Jared Polis, we strive to advance the State’s economy through financial and technical assistance that fosters local and regional economic development activities throughout Colorado. OEDIT offers a host of programs and services tailored to support business development at every level including business retention services, business relocation services, and business funding and incentives. Our office includes the Global Business Development division; Colorado Tourism Office; Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office; Colorado Creative Industries; Business Financing & Incentives division; the Colorado Small Business Development Network; Cannabis Business Office; Colorado Office of Film, TV & Media; the Minority Business Office; Employee Ownership Office; and Rural Opportunity Office. Learn more at

Grand Junction Economic Partnership Unveils Captivating Video Highlighting Opportunity Zones & Riverfront at Las Colonias

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) has released its latest video highlighting the Grand Junction area produced in partnership with the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT). The video, titled Opportunity Awaits in Grand Junction, highlights the region as a place for investment through its seven federally designated Opportunity Zones.

The video puts the spotlight on the picturesque Riverfront at Las Colonias business park and showcases the area’s potential for economic growth and new development. Featuring several local businesses and community stakeholders including Bonsai Design, Camp Eddy, City of Grand Junction and Colorado Mesa University, the video tells the story of development within the region and areas of opportunity for new investment and business development.

“Our community has experienced tremendous momentum over the past few years and many of the new investments we’re seeing are from the Opportunity Zone perspective. These designated Opportunity Zones provide a unique chance for visionary businesses to thrive and flourish”, stated Curtis Englehart, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. “This video really tells the story of who we are as a community and highlights many of our shared values. We are thankful for the support of OEDIT and the opportunity to produce this asset that will be utilized as a focal point within our marketing efforts.”

The Opportunity Zone program is a federal incentive encouraging long-term private investment in historically low-income communities by giving investors tax benefits for investing in real estate projects and operating businesses. Investors can receive incentives through deferral and elimination of state and federal capital gains taxes. Over the past five years, the program has garnered much success throughout Colorado and amassed over $1 billion in new investment throughout the state.

“We are excited to see the Grand Junction area celebrated in this video. The Opportunity Zone incentive has driven over a billion dollars of needed investment into workforce housing, outdoor recreation and businesses across Colorado. We have seen all three investment types in Grand Junction, which has exemplified best practices by identifying Opportunity Zone projects and businesses and working directly with investors to multiply investments in businesses and create new housing. This video continues the great work we’ve seen in Grand Junction since the program began in 2018,” stated Jack Tiebout, Senior Program Manager for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

There are seven Colorado Opportunity Zones in the Grand Junction area, primarily located near Downtown Grand Junction, Powderhorn Mountain Resort and Grand Mesa. One of the most notable properties ready for investment is the Riverfront at Las Colonias business park.

The Riverfront at Las Colonias is a 140-acre mixed-use space; and includes a 15-acre business park with seven shovel-ready pad sites along the Colorado River near Downtown Grand Junction. This development began as a public-private partnership to turn the City of Grand Junction’s blighted riverfront into a beloved community asset. The property is now home to 6 local businesses, the development of 322 housing units. It features attractive nearby amenities, including a 4,000-person capacity amphitheater, a botanical garden, a river park and a zip line opening this summer.

As the Opportunity Zone (OZ) program nears its 2026 sunset, now is the time to take advantage of investment opportunities within these designated zones. This program aids in spurring economic growth and job creation in historically lower-income communities while providing tax benefits to investors. Investors can defer tax on any prior eligible gain to the extent that a corresponding amount is invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF). The last day that investors can realize a capital gain that can be put into a QOF is December 31, 2026, but investors can hold an OZ investment as long as 2046 to realize its full 10+ year benefit, including the elimination of capital gains tax on the appreciation of the OZ investment itself.

For businesses seeking to relocate or expand into the region, GJEP offers a range of support services, including assistance with site selection, access to business resources and incentives and introduction to local and state networks.

To view the captivating video and discover the potential of the Grand Junction area’s Opportunity Zones and development opportunities through the Riverfront at Las Colonias, please visit

How Modular Construction Could Ease Colorado’s Housing Affordability Crisis in 2023

It’s been a banner era for residential real estate in Colorado.

Zillow ranked Colorado as having the fifth-highest typical home value of any state, a number that eclipsed $600,000 in 2022. The dark lining to this seemingly silver cloud is a statewide affordability crisis.

Modular and other offsite construction represents a potential salve, and the state government has embraced it. Gov. Jared Polis even gave a nod to Buena Vista-based modular manufacturer Fading West Development in his 2023 “State of the State” address.

“It’s his No. 1 agenda item,” says Fading West founder and CEO Charlie Chupp. “We have to solve it. It’s just getting worse.”

READ: Housing Affordability Crisis in Colorado: Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction See No Signs of Improvement

Now about 200 employees, Fading West opened its 110,000-square-foot factory with a single production line in Buena Vista in late 2021. The company has designs on manufacturing in a bigger one — 220,000 square feet with two lines, to be precise — on the Front Range by 2025.

About 85 percent of Fading West’s output is workforce housing, largely in Colorado’s mountain towns. “We’ve got our first big multifamily project through a partnership with Breckenridge starting in March,” Chupp says. “It’s a public/private partnership to build 60 workforce housing apartments.”

While the National Association of Home Builders estimated that only 2 percent of single-family homes were built offsite in 2021, modular construction is poised to grow for Colorado, Chupp says. “The things that the manufacturing process will bring to construction is efficiency, speed and supply,” he says. “We’re still 10 to 20 percent less expensive, and this factory can build 400 to 600 homes a year, and we can work all year-round.”

Labor (or lack thereof) is another big factor, he adds, noting that forecasts estimate that more than 40 percent of the current construction industry’s workforce will retire in the next decade.

READ: Colorado Construction Industry Forecast — Increased Negotiations and Cost-effective Builds in 2023

Chupp plans to leverage the state’s new Innovative Housing Incentive Program (IHIP) to expand capacity in Buena Vista and beyond. The program is allocating $40 million to manufacturers in the form of working capital grants, per-unit incentives, and factory development loans.

Jack Tiebout, senior program manager at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), is overseeing IHIP. “The governor and the legislature are really prioritizing solutions we can use to address the housing shortage across the state,” Tiebout says. “Affordability is absolutely the main driver.”

The program is unique, Tiebout adds.

“There are other programs across the country that work to support innovative housing and modular housing in different forms. Those other programs that I know of are on a project-by-project basis and geared toward the developers. We have not seen another program across the country that has directly worked to incentivize and help grow the manufacturers themselves.”

Starting up in 2020, Golden-based Addazu is a new entrant in the state’s modular construction sector. The company is working with a contract manufacturer to build components and has built a prototype structure in Denver. 

Founder and CEO Kelly Pickering says Addazu is focused on flexibility through innovation in manufacturing. “What we’re really trying to do is build out a system that can be reconfigured pre- or post-construction,” he explains. “We don’t have a set floor plan.”

Pickering notes that the state support is a definite catalyst.

“It’s a really exciting time to be in the modular construction industry in the state of Colorado,” he says. “They’re just doing a number of things to help push the industry forward, and we’re definitely leaning into all of that.”

A number of other offsite building startups are in launch or soon-to-launch mode, including Higher Purpose Homes in Durango, indieDwell in Pueblo, and Mosaic Housing in Grand Junction.

Not that modular construction is a new idea. The first prefabricated house was shipped from England to Massachusetts in the 1600s; Sears kit homes took off in the early 1900s, and the U.S. industry boomed in the 1970s.

Several manufacturers in Colorado’s offsite building sector have been at it for a decade or more. Siblings Bill and Kate McDonald started Phoenix Haus in Detroit in 2010 before moving to Grand Junction in 2017, due largely to the fact that most of their customers were in the Rockies. In 2022, the 15-employee company cut the ribbon on a new 20,000-square-foot factory.

READ: The Economics of Housing Inflation in Colorado: Exploring the Supply and Demand Imbalance

The company manufactures panels for energy-efficient passive houses that range from 900 to 3,000 square feet. Mountain towns across the region remain the target market, and about 80 homes have been built with Phoenix Haus panels to date.

Bill points to McKinsey & Company’s 2020 report, “The next normal in construction,” which estimates that offsite construction could account for more than 20 percent of new housing by 2035. Offsite construction “collapses the supply chains. You can efficiently source as much as you can get your hands on to avoid the high-priced labor dollar in the mountain markets,” he says.

More than 40 percent of housing is currently built offsite in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.

“You go to Europe, it’s just like I’m saying and McKinsey’s saying: You’re shipping in way more of the finished building blocks and there’s more of an assembly focus at the worksite,” Bill says. “In Colorado specifically, less than 5 percent of construction starts are offsite, so there’s a lot of runway there for this to grow and to fill in with companies looking to meet that customer demand.”

A subsidiary of Denver-based Clayton Properties Group, Precision Building Systems (PBS) has built about 20,000 modular homes since its founding in 2017. President Jay Small says the model makes for more precise builds. “It all goes together kind of like a puzzle, but an easy puzzle,” he says.

It also accelerates construction considerably. “An ideal build today in this market [Denver] is about eight months for site-built,” says Small. “We can do it in 60 days.”

The PBS operation is moving from its 200,000-square-foot facility in central Denver to a larger factory on 53 acres in Brighton; groundbreaking is slated for Q3 2023. “Right now, we can only build two houses a week,” Small says. “We’ll be able to go from building two houses a week to four houses a day.”

The resulting economies of scale will drive down costs. “Your cost per unit will be less, and that goes right to the consumer,” Small says. “That’s the real hook.”

READ: New Approaches to Affordable Housing in Resort Communities

Launched in July 2022, On2 Homes represents the first foray into modular housing for Clayton’s Oakwood Homes. On2 is selling PBS-built homes that start around $350,000 in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood near Denver International Airport. “That same house stick-built would probably be $450,000,” Small says, noting that the lots themselves cost about $90,000.

On2 President Kristen Nelson describes a brisk pace of inquiries and foresees opportunities in both infill development and master-planned communities. On2 has about 20 contracts for homes on the 96 sites as of early 2023.

“The demand is there for homeownership, but people can’t necessarily afford it,” Nelson says. “What we’re trying to do is make the product so attainable that renters can actually get their foot in the door and start building equity themselves.”

However, there is a reputational hurdle to clear. “People hear ‘modular’ and they think of a single-wide or double-wide that can be transported. Those are actually the manufactured products,” Nelson says. “We’re actually required to follow the same stipulations and the same inspection process that a stick-built home is, so that’s what makes us different from the manufactured products.”

In the end, however, it’s a numbers game, and the numbers remain relatively small. When its new factory comes online, PBS will be able to make upwards of 1,500 units annually. Fading West could hit a similar number if a Front Range facility starts up in 2025, but other startups in the state will likely need years to hit that level of production. “You’re not going to solve the problem very quickly at that rate,” Small says.


Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer’s Colorado, Frommer’s Montana & Wyoming, Frommer’s Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver’s Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]