It’s time to celebrate!
The ICELab officially turned one year old earlier this month — and what a year it has been! As with any new venture, our first few months have been a whirlwind of learning, experimenting and stepping out in new directions. Now we’re ready to take our mandate — to become a regional hub of entrepreneurialism and innovation — and run with it!
For as long as anyone in the Gunnison Valley can remember, “economic development” has been a highly sought-after (but often elusive) goal. Recently, the community spoke loud and clear — again — during the One Valley Prosperity Project. In the course of that conversation, people from up and down the valley reaffirmed their desire to have a more diverse economy, with high-paying jobs that still preserve the quality of life that makes this place so special. We said we want the kind of opportunity that will allow our kids and grandkids to stay here and make a decent living.
That collective message boils down to this: It’s time for the Gunnison Valley to become more than just another place to play. We have the potential to be “home” to people who come here to live, to work, to learn. This can be a place on the cutting edge of creativity and innovation — where “growth” means so much more than “bigger.” It means “better” — in every possible way.
And reaching that potential is exactly the task we’ve set for ourselves at the ICELab — in collaboration with a whole host of community partners and stakeholders.
Since July 2017 we have:
- Served 18 companies, each with terrific growth potential, through our intensive incubator and accelerator programs;
- Guided almost 100 Gunnison Valley companies, of all shapes and sizes, through our Small Business Development Center consultancy program;
- Assembled a team of over 100 new mentors, partners, contributors and cheerleaders;
- Strengthened our unique relationship with Western State Colorado University — as well as other community entities and organizations;
- Provided 24/7 co-working space and business resources to dozens of motivated community entrepreneurs and organizations.
Now, looking ahead, we’re twice as motivated to build on that momentum and serve even greater numbers of promising business in our second year — and beyond.
But that’s not the end of the story. To celebrate our birthday, we’re excited to announce the launch of a project in partnership with the Tourism Association, we call “Mission 5-10-7.” It’s an energetic and ambitious plan to cultivate or attract five companies with annual revenue of $10 million in the next seven years.
Let that sink in — and imagine the positive, transformative effect our success will have on the Gunnison Valley. Notice, the idea is not simply to entice companies to relocate here. More than that, our dream is to encourage and support entrepreneurs who are already here — and just need a boost to get their ideas off the kitchen table and into the world.
The ICELab is, first and foremost, a community service organization. And we are here to stay. Our job is to think big, work hard, push the envelope and help create the conditions necessary for this valley to achieve its highest potential.
But, to paraphrase the well-known saying: “It takes a village to raise a start-up.” That means, there are ways you can help. Participate in the educational dialogue we’ve created with events like our Storytellers series and other periodic seminars. Join the community of local innovators who use the ICELab space on a daily basis. Support local businesses on the front lines of creating new opportunity.
Never before has the “opportunity for opportunity” been so great in the Gunnison Valley. This is the moment when we all get to participate in shaping a better future.
Let’s get to work! – ICELab Team