News, Events & Workshops

Hemp operations to grow in Baca and Otero Counties

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Colorado Biz Magazine Article on Southeast Colorado

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Big R Expands Into Baca County

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Hemp Adds Jobs in La Junta

Hemp Industry Brings Jobs to Rural Community

On Tuesday April 21st, Whole Hemp Company announced that it is going to expand its operation to La Junta, Colorado where it will be converting an empty building into a grow center and processing / production facility. “This building has been empty for twelve years and having Whole Hemp Company repurpose it is a great step towards revitalizing the community,” said Mayor Lynn Horner. Otero County Commissioner Jim Baldwin added, “We are looking forward to having the Whole Hemp Company in Otero County. They will be bringing jobs, using our farm land, and potentially bringing other businesses.”

After the announcement, Kashif Shan, CEO of Whole Hemp Company, said “Whole Hemp Company is really excited to be in La Junta and have been overwhelmed by the support that the local community has already given.” The Whole Hemp Company plans to hire thirty to forty people within the first couple of weeks with aspirations to hire one hundred to two hundred employees total over the next twelve to twenty four months. Jobs will primarily be focused in the grow operations.

Hemp is regulated by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and should not be confused with marijuana.  Both plants share the genus Cannabis Sativa but hemp does not have the same intoxicating psychoactive properties as marijuana. In fact, hemp has long been used for paper, rope, and oils. The Whole Hemp Company will be extracting the Cannabidiol (CBD) oil from the plants that it will then sell directly to supplement and nutraceutical companies. Currently, these supplement and nutraceutical companies are importing hemp oil from China and Eastern Europe.

“As an economic developer, I am always looking for ways to improve the multiplier (number of times money circulates in the economy) and if we follow the value chain, the hemp industry has the potential to greatly increase the economic outlook for the Arkansas Valley. La Junta and the surrounding communities are receiving direct jobs from Whole Hemp Company, farmers are going to gain revenue from outdoor grow operations. Additional companies will follow Whole Hemp Company to extract the oils and refine the byproducts into other raw materials. It is possible we will see additional manufacturers locate here in La Junta to be closer to their raw material sources. And then there are the indirect jobs that will come from all of these extra people having paychecks”, explained Ryan Stevens, Director of La Junta Economic Development.

Whole Hemp Company is a Colorado Limited Liability Company that is committed to producing CBD oil that is 100% U.S. grown and processed and 100% caustic solvent free.  For more information visit www.WholeHempCompany.com.

La Junta Economic Development is committed to expanding the employment base in La Junta, Colorado by attracting new businesses and retaining & expanding existing businesses.   For more information on La Junta Economic Development, please visit www.LaJuntaEconomicDevelopment.com.

 

Working Together – How Collaboration Builds Business

It doesn’t matter if you are a sports team, business owner, student, or employee. At some point you are going to need to work as part of a team. Several clichés come to mind, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, “There is no I in team”, or “we are only as strong as our weakest link”. There is always some truth in the clichés and they act as motivational phrases that can inspire greatness. The La Junta Lady Tigers wouldn’t have won the state championship in softball without teamwork and the Broncos would be at the bottom of the standings if they couldn’t work as a team. So how does this apply to economic development and the business world?

From the economic development standpoint, teamwork is essential, especially when we are working with limited resources. It takes collaboration amongst the city and county economic developers along with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the chambers of commerce to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that we are using the same messaging across each of these organizations. This happens almost everyday at the SCORE Center on OJC’s campus but it happens at a regional level as well. La Junta Economic Development, Otero County Economic Development, and the SBDC take part in monthly meetings that bring together the six counties of Southeastern Colorado (Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Prowers, & Otero). This group is called Southeast Business Retention, Expansion, & Attraction or SEBREA for short. SEBREA brings together six economic developers, county commissioners and the presidents of the two local community colleges to discuss ways to improve economic development within the region and acts as the advisory council for the SBDC. SEBREA is currently going through a marketing exercise to help create messaging that is consistent across the region.

On the business side, collaboration is essential to growing business even though it might mean that you have to collaborate with your competition. Even if a business isn’t in direct competition with their collaborators they are still competing for talent or other limited resources. One great example of how businesses worked together is LoDo in Denver. When we think of Denver now it is booming and growing by leaps and bounds but a few decades ago it was floundering. It took restaurant and retail storeowners in lower downtown getting together to discuss ways to improve the area and then taking action on those discussions. There is great power in working together to improve the overall environment so that all businesses can benefit. Another great example of this is the local manufacturing meetings that happen on a monthly basis where manufacturers meet to discuss ways to solve some of their biggest challenges. These meetings bring together manufacturers, economic developers, workforce developers, OJC, and K-12 resources. This group has worked together to help bring new school curriculum to five local schools and is putting together a manufacturing week at the end of January to introduce students to local jobs and potential career paths within the manufacturing industry.

It doesn’t have to be just local manufacturers who work together. Healthcare, retail, agriculture, & non-profit industries can all find ways to work together to help improve the overall economic environment for the Arkansas Valley. If you want to discuss how your group can leverage the brainpower of your local industry, email Ryan Stevens at ryan.stevens@ojc.edu.

Export Training in La Junta

SEBREA is excited to announce that the Rocky Mountain World Trade Center will be hosting export training on March 3rd in La Junta, Colorado.  Members from the World Trade Center as well as Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade will be present to answer questions and facilitate discussions.  The training will be held at Oliver Manufacturing in the La Junta Industrial Park.

Exporting is a great way to find new customers for your products and it in turn helps grow the local economy.  Did you know that Oliver Manufacturing ships more than 60% of their product overseas?  Learn what the experts know and see if exporting would work for your business.  Click the link below to download the export training flyer.

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Economic Development & Business Resources Available to Southeast Colorado

Unfortunately there isn’t enough awareness around the business resources that are available to local business owners and entrepreneurs around the valley. Every week La Junta Economic Development, Otero County Economic Development, Small Business Development Council (SBDC), La Junta Chamber of Commerce, and others will be highlighting different topics and resources available to businesses.

Otero Junior College is home to the SCORE Center which houses Otero County Economic Development, La Junta Economic Development, and SBDC. These three entities are responsible for job creation and retention for their respective jurisdictions. The SBDC serves six counties – Bent, Crowley, Otero, Kiowa, Prowers, & Baca. They are here to serve new and existing businesses by providing technical assistance. There are two economic development groups in Otero County that work together to help recruit, retain, and grow primary employers.

You might ask, “what is economic development?” Economic development focuses on bringing in new employers but not any type of employer – primary employers. These are employers who generate more than 60% of their revenue from outside of the valley. This distinction is important because our economy is always leaking. Primary employers bring in new dollars to the area and pay employees who can then go and spend that money at restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, etc. When you think about our large employers like Lewis Bolt, Debourgh, or Oliver, they are shipping their products across the country or in Oliver’s case around the world. The money that they generate doing this comes back and helps to supply our economy. Another important point to make about primary employers is that they also support ancillary businesses in the community.

We just saw a big win with the sale of the pickle plant but what is economic development doing to attract and grow more businesses? Economic development has other projects that it is continuing to work which would bring more jobs. We are also always trying to find other opportunities. One of the easiest ways for new businesses to connect with us is through the new website www.LaJuntaEconomicDevelopment.com. This site will be added to with more content over the next few months. We also attend conferences, use email marketing, and print advertising to interact with prospective businesses.

Economic development is also part of the state’s Sector Partnership strategy. We use this strategy to work with different industries like the manufacturing industry. By using this framework, we have industry, economic development, workforce, junior college, and K-12 education at the table to discuss the topics that are most important to their industry. We hope to launch a similar partnership in the healthcare industry soon.

Economic development covers a wide range of topics and acts as the connecting piece across different groups. Remember that economic development isn’t a one person job, it takes partnerships from industry, non-profits, workforce, K-12 education, higher education, government, and others to be successful.

If you have suggestions for this column or would like to learn more about economic development or other business topics please email ryan.stevens@ojc.edu.

Tiny Homes Mean Big Business in La Junta, Colorado

Sprout Tiny Homes can be pulled by a 1/2 ton pickup.

In February, Sprout Tiny Homes, LLC selected La Junta, Colorado for its manufacturing headquarters. The startup company exhibited its first production tiny home at the Denver Home Show on March 14th – 16th. The company manufactures high quality tiny homes to address the rapidly growing tiny home movement whereby consumers are giving up their McMansions in favor of tiny homes that maximize space, have the latest in high tech and eco friendly amenities with very low utility costs. Consumers are buying tiny homes for a variety of use cases including their primary residence, a guest house, rental property, vacation home, an in-law unit and some are even configuring them as a retail store. The homes range from 18 to 24 feet with plans to deliver to customers in CO, KS, NE, WY and TX through strategic partners such as JAX Mercantile, Big R Ranch Supply, and is in discussion with Bass Pro Shops. The Company is even offering the buyer to participate in the build if they choose to do so. The homes take about 2 – 3 weeks to manufacture and can be towed to the home site behind a ½ ton pickup or larger. Ryan Stevens, the Director of La Junta Economic Development, commented “we are thrilled to see Sprout Tiny Homes select La Junta as their headquarters. This company will help to diversify our manufacturing base and it brings an exciting new business to La Junta and the rest of the Arkansas Valley. It will be  exciting to see their business grow.” Mayor Lynn Horner added, “In these changing economic times, we are blessed to have a company choose to set up their manufacturing operations in La Junta. Sprout Tiny Homes will soon know what many of our growing manufacturers already know, La Junta is a great place to do business.”

Sprout Tiny Homes plans to hire up to twelve employees with hopes to expand by the end of the year. The
company will be looking for employees with general to advanced construction skills (framing, plumbing, and electrical skills). To apply, contact the Colorado Workforce Center at (719) 383-3191 or apply online at www.connectingcolorado.com.

Sprout Tiny Homes is led by Chief Sproutologist Rod Stambaugh who has over twenty years of entrepreneurial experience. Mr. Stambaugh cited affordable manufacturing space and the city’s business friendly environment as some of the key reasons for selecting La Junta as its headquarters.

Sprout Tiny Homes is a uniquely talented team of entrepreneurs with custom home building experience and technical innovation. They pride themselves on building the highest quality tiny homes with the homeowner’s personality in mind. From their streamlined manufacturing facility to their network of innovative vendors of Tiny Home accessories, furniture and sound systems, they are the premier manufacturer of quality and efficient tiny homes. For more information on Sprout Tiny Homes please visit www.SproutTinyHomes.com.

La Junta Economic Development is committed to expanding the employment base in La Junta, Colorado by attracting new businesses and retaining & expanding existing businesses. For more information on La Junta Economic Development, please visit www.LaJuntaEconomicDevelopment.com.

Contact Information:
Ryan Stevens
La Junta Economic Development
http://www.lajuntaeconomicdevelopment.com
(719) 671-9499

Rod Stambaugh
Sprout Tiny Homes
http://www.sprouttinyhomes.com
720-810-4228

COCO Century

Saturday – July 26, 2014 3rd Annual Event

COCO_Century_Logo

The COCO Century is a remarkably flat road bike route through various rural communities in Southeast Colorado.  We welcome you to come and enjoy a great venue for your first century ride, a chance to beat your personal best time , or just have a blast with the rest of us benefiting a truly great organization, Arkansas Valley Hospice.  You can find us on Facebook and register here.

Let SEBREA be your resource for building a successful
Southeast Colorado business.