Category: Hospitality & Tourism

Meetings to unveil Estes Park incubator plan

ESTES PARK — Plans and recommendations for a business-incubator program to serve the Estes Valley will be unveiled at two public meetings next week in Estes Park.

Austin, Texas-based ATP Management has been formulating the blueprint based on suggestions from Estes Park-area businesses and residents, and will unveil the plan during public meetings beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, in the Estes Valley Library’s Hondius Room, 335 E. Elkhorn Ave., and from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday, June 9, at the Estes Park Museum, 200 Fourth St.

“These meetings should be of interest to both entrepreneurs and potential mentors for new or expanding businesses,” said Jon Nicholas, president and chief executive of the Estes Park Economic Development Corp., which hired the consultant.

Planning for the business incubator has focused on developing a sustainable program that benefits both existing Estes Park businesses that wish to expand and startups or scale-ups that need services and expertise aimed at larger expansion.

Kyle Cox, managing director of the ATP Fund, has served as project manager. Also on the project team are Mike Freeman, chief executive of the Fort Collins-based Innosphere business incubator; Isaac Barchas, head of the Austin Technology Incubator; Ryan Field, lead researcher at LiveOak Venture Partners; and Jamie Rhodes, who founded the Central Texas Angel Network and the Association of Texas Angel Networks. Their efforts have been supported and informed by a business incubator committee sponsored by the Estes Park EDC.

In addition to the public meetings, an informal discussion of the business plan and what services can benefit regional entrepreneurs will be held from 8 to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 8, at VIA Bicycle Café, 1751 N. Lake St, Unit 110. The café hosts the Estes Park Startup Meetup every first Wednesday of the month.

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

BizWest 500 highlights largest, fastest-growing companies

Purchase this new publication by clicking BizWest 500. For a preview of the content, here’s the first page.

Welcome to the BizWest 500, an ambitious undertaking that highlights the largest or fastest-growing companies throughout the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado (and the highest-paid executives).

This special edition of BizWest aggregates content that previously had been published over a span of many months, but it also represents a dramatic increase in the data that we publish on the region’s largest private- and public-sector employers.

In these pages, you’ll find:

• The Mercury 100 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the Boulder Valley, along with five profiles of interesting companies on the list.

• The Mercury 100 list of the fastest-growing private companies in Northern Colorado, along with five profiles of interesting companies on the list.

• A list of the Top 25 highest-paid executives of public companies.

• A list of the 50 largest public-sector employers, including municipalities, counties, universities, federal laboratories, etc.

• A vastly expanded list of the region’s largest employers — 200 companies listed, compared with 50 published last year.

• A list of the largest publicly traded companies based in our region. (We’ve stretched this a bit, opting to include a handful of companies that have shifted their headquarters to the Denver area or other nearby cities, but which retain a significant presence in our region.)

All told, these lists represent the largest number of ranked lists we’ve ever published in one issue, outside of our annual Book of Lists publication.

Most companies cited in these lists responded to our surveys. Others are included based on BizWest estimates, reports by economic-development agencies, news accounts or other sources. Data for the public companies and highest-paid executives lists came entirely from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

This endeavor represents many months of work by our staff, especially our chief researcher, Chad Collins. As with any undertaking of this magnitude, errors and omissions are likely. In particular, our lists of the largest private-sector and public-sector employers will continue to be refined and expanded. If you’d like to see your company included — or if you spot a mistake or other omission — please contact Chad at ccollins@bizwestmedia.com.

It should be noted that we’ve opted to include aggregated numbers for some employers, such as major health systems, as well as numbers for some of their constituent institutions, i.e., a hospital within the system.

If you have a suggestion for the BizWest 500 next year, please feel free to contact me at the number below.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or cwood@bizwestmedia.com.

Mercury 100 event to honor Boulder Valley’s fastest-growing companies

LAFAYETTE – Tickets are on sale for Mercury 100 Boulder Valley, an annual event presented by BizWest that recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Boulder and Broomfield counties.

The Boulder Valley Mercury 100 list is ranked by percentage revenue growth over a two-year  period. Up until last year, the list was divided into two “flights” of 50 companies each. Beginning in 2015, however, the Mercury 100 has been divided into five flights of 20 each, with the highest revenue earners in Flight I. Those 20 companies then are ranked by their percentage revenue growth from 2013 to 2015. The lists are compiled by BizWest’s research department and vetted by Anton Collins Mitchell.

The top five companies in each flight will be introduced during the event, and representatives of most of the 100 companies will be in attendance.

This year’s event — including the recognition ceremony, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and opportunities for networking — will be held beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at the Lionsgate Event Center, 1055 S. 112th St. in Lafayette. Tickets can be purchased online at for $49 until Monday, May 23, or until they’re sold out. If seats remain available the evening of the event, they’ll sell for $59 at the door.

Sponsors include Anton Collins Mitchell, First National Bank, Three Leaf Concepts, Lionsgate
Event Center, Centennial Bank and Trust, Boulder Blooms, Daylight Productions and Rentals, Foothills United Way, RSM U.S. LLP, SurveyGizmo, GrafXGroup, RSM, Wyatt’s Wet Goods and the Left Hand, Avery and Oskar Blues breweries.

A seat at the table: Women not well-represented in local boardrooms

Women are still scarce on Colorado public company boards of directors.

Out of the top 27 publicly traded companies based in Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties — or with strong local connections — only a handful have more than 20 percent women on their boards, including Heska Corp., WhiteWave Foods Co., Vail Resorts Inc., Zayo Group Holdings Inc., DigitalGlobe, Inc. and Gaiam Inc., and 12 don’t have any female representation on their boards at all.

Nationwide, the average is 18.8 percent, up from just 14.6 percent in 2011, according to the 2015 Gender Diversity Index issued by 2020 Women on Boards, a nonprofit grassroots campaign that is committed to increasing the percentage of women who serve on company boards to 20 percent or greater by the year 2020.

Forty-five percent of all companies nationwide now have 20 percent or greater women on their board.

The organization tracks progress for women on boards among the Fortune 1000 companies. Of the 842 active U.S. public companies examined, 664 of them earned the group’s “W” designation, meaning they are a winning company that has 20 percent or more board seats filled with female directors. Women gained 75 board seats in 2015, compared with 52 board seats in those companies in 2014, the group found.


“You don’t have to have someone on the board with industry experience. Sometimes it is useful to have someone from outside the industry who doesn’t have lessons to unlearn about that industry’s lore. They bring a fresh perspective.”

Jason Napolitano, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, executive vice president, Heska Corp.


Every sector has seen growth in the numbers of women placed on boards, the report found. The number of companies with zero women on their boards has also decreased to 9 percent from 18 percent in 2011.

The group ranks companies with 11 percent to 19 percent women on their boards as “V” for very close to where they need to be. Companies with only one woman board member are ranked “T” for token. Companies with zero women on their boards receive a “Z” rating.

‘Value inherent in diversity’

The founders of 2020 Women on Boards believe that gender diversity strengthens the U.S. economy.

“Good corporate decision-making requires the ability to hear and consider different points of view, which comes from people who have different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives,” the organization said. “Companies that have women directors and executive officers lead by example. They send a clear message that they value diversity of thought and experience. Advancing women to positions of leadership is smart business.”

Ball Corp., which is the largest publicly traded company in the area with $8.6 billion in revenue in 2014 and 14,500 employees worldwide, has one female director out of nine directors.

In its proxy statement, the company said that its nominating and corporate governance committee “consistently applies the principles of diversity in its consideration of candidates for Board positions. In addition to considering characteristics such as race, gender and national origin, the Committee considers a variety of other characteristics such as business and professional experience, education and skill, all leading to differences of viewpoint and other individual qualities that contribute to Board heterogeneity.”

Heska Corp. topped our list of companies with winning boards of directors. The company, which is headquartered in Loveland, has a six-person board of directors, three of whom are women.

It is the only company out of 27 companies examined that had complete gender equity on its board.

Back of a chair in the board room

Back of a chair in the board room

In its annual proxy statement the company said that its Corporate Governance Committee does not have “an established policy for diversity of Director nominees or appointees. However, we believe diversity is inherent in our approach of seeking high quality individuals with complementary skills to create a group dynamic and decision making process that is even stronger than would be obtained by the mere summation of its individual contributors in isolation.”

Jason Napolitano, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, executive vice president and secretary at Heska Corp., said that his company’s emphasis is on strong board candidates first, bringing people with good business experience.

“We also recognize that there is value inherent in diversity, where you get different perspectives in the room all at once. That often will lead to a sum being greater than a bunch of individuals contributing alone,” he said.

Heska developed a range of blood diagnostic solutions for treating pets. Because the company works closely with veterinarians, it wants to make sure its board reflects that demographic. About 70 percent of veterinarians are women, he said.

“At the board level, it would be nice to have women because, increasingly, our customers are women,” he said.

Zayo aims for 50/50

Public companies across the country have said they don’t have women on their boards because they are involved in industries that women are not attracted to, such as energy and minerals.

“You don’t have to have someone on the board with industry experience,” Napolitano said. “Sometimes it is useful to have someone from outside the industry who doesn’t have lessons to unlearn about that industry’s lore. They bring a fresh perspective.”


“It is not a charitable contribution to the general idea of diversity. The company gets value out of that. Zayo has found we improved our numbers across the diversity spectrum, which has provided value for our company. Our bottom line has improved significantly.”

Jarrod Tisdell, vice president of people, culture and brand, Zayo Group


He added that he “can’t think of any industries where women have been disqualified. It seems to me you should be able to find a woman in any industry.”

Zayo Group Holdings Inc. was another company that beat the average on board gender diversity, with 37.5 percent of its eight directors being women.

Jarrod Tisdell, vice president of people, culture and brand within Zayo Group Holdings in Boulder, said that his company has made a pointed effort in the past year and moving forward to get more diversity on its board of directors and companywide.

Zayo’s goal is to get the company to a 50/50 split on the board and in the company within the next five to 10 years.

It has always been a principle of the company’s CEO, Dan Caruso, but this year the company made the effort to spend money on human capital in the company and outside the company to help it achieve its goals. The company attends women in technology and women in business events to not only recruit good candidates but also to let people know that Zayo is a “place they would want to come work and thrive,” Tisdell said.

From board room to bottom line

Zayo wants to make sure it has people on its board who understand Zayo’s core business and what makes sense for its plans moving forward, but it doesn’t want to limit it to telecom or fiber people. It also wants to include individuals with a broader understanding of financial markets, equity markets and business in general.

In response to companies that say they just can’t find women to hold leadership or director positions, Tisdell said they are “not trying hard enough. …The telecom and technology industry is very heavily male-dominated and it is hard to get the numbers up where we want them to unless we are willing to put resources toward that effort.”

Adding women to leadership and board positions is a value proposition, he said.

“It is not a charitable contribution to the general idea of diversity. The company gets value out of that. Zayo has found we improved our numbers across the diversity spectrum, which has provided value for our company. Our bottom line has improved significantly,” Tisdell said. “People say they have a hard time finding it, but they are not thinking creatively enough or are not willing to put money upfront to get that done.”

Gaiam Inc., headquartered in Louisville, also has 37.5 percent women board members. In its proxy statement, it said that its board of directors reviews and assesses the appropriate skills, experience and background sought for members of the board.

“This assessment of board skills, experience, and background includes numerous diverse factors, such as independence; understanding of and experience in consumer product businesses, technology, finance, and marketing; international experience; age; and gender and ethnic diversity.”

It adds that the company doesn’t expect each director to have the same background, skills or experience but it does expect that “board members will have a diverse portfolio of backgrounds, skills and experiences.”

Large company numbers up

Larger companies do a better job of including women board members, according to 2020 Women on Boards. Since 2011, those numbers have continued to increase. In 2015, 22.9 percent of board seats for the Fortune 100 Index companies were held by women, or about 2.7 women directors per board. Of the Fortune 500 Index companies, 20.1 percent of board seats were held by women or an average of 2.2 women directors per board, the organization found.

In Colorado, which has 23 Fortune 1000 companies, 14.6 percent of those board seats were held by women. Statewide, the Gender Diversity Index was 14.8 percent, up slightly from 14 percent in 2014, according to 2020 Women on Boards.

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May meetings to advance Estes Park incubator plan

ESTES PARK — The tourist town at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park is taking some decisive steps toward forming a business incubator specially designed for a mountain resort community instead of the familiar models that are geared toward an urban technology corridor.

Public meetings led by the Estes Park Economic Development Corp. have been scheduled for the first week in May to continue planning for incubator programs and services in the Estes Valley. Current volunteer members of the incubator committee will attend, and the EDC is encouraging entrepreneurs, potential mentors and angel investors to show up as well.

At the first meeting, to be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 3, in the Town Board chambers in the town hall, 170 MacGregor Ave., representatives of Austin, Texas-based seed-stage venture-capital firm ATP Management LLC will present and discuss a virtual business incubator as well as planning for growing a sustainable incubator in Estes Park to support entrepreneurship and capital formation in the area. ATP was hired by the EDC after fielding competitive bids from nine consultants.

From 8 to 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, May 4, incubator planners will hold a startup meeting at Via Bicycle Café, 1751 N. Lake Ave., No. 110.

The project is being funded with the third and final portion of a $300,000 grant the town and the Estes Park EDC received in September 2014 from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. According to Jon Nicholas, the EDC’s president and chief executive, the first part was used for initial planning for competitive broadband, and the second part was used to develop a regional economic strategy.”

Mike Freeman, chief executive of the Fort Collins-based Innosphere business incubator, is part of the project team, along with Kyle Cox, manager of the ATP Fund; Isaac Barchas, head of the Austin Technology Incubator, the longest-established venture incubator; Ryan Field, research manager at ATI and lead researcher at LiveOak Venture Partners; and Jamie Rhodes, who founded the Central Texas Angel Network and the Association of Texas Angel Networks.

Nicholas has said the incubator would be different than an incubator in Fort Collins, Boulder or Denver because a resort community has different goals and target markets.

More information is available on the EDC’s website, estesparkedc.com.

Google takes viewers on local trails, virtually

Distance, physical limitations or weather no longer can keep people from experiencing the beauty of 20 local mountain trails, thanks to a new venture released Tuesday by Google.

Eleven trails in the Flatirons above Boulder as well as seven in Rocky Mountain National Park and two in the town of Estes Park have been captured with Google’s Street View Trekker — the same technology used since 2007 by cameras atop Google cars that provide 360-degree views along streets and highways worldwide, except mounted instead atop a wearable backpack introduced by Google in 2012.

The 40-pound Trekker is worn by an operator and walked along trails or pedestrian walkways. All the while, the camera’s 15 lenses — about two feet above the walker’s shoulders — automatically gather images in all directions, one every 2.5 seconds, powered by a battery that can last about 68 hours on a full charge. The stored images are then stitched together at a Google facility in Mountain View, Calif., to create the 360-degree views.

The Street View images allow users to make virtual visits to many of Colorado’s most iconic and impressive landscapes, and also can enhance marketing for Colorado’s tourism industry, said Brooke Burnham, director of communications and public relations for Visit Estes Park.

“We really see them as a great tool,” she said. “We have a page on our website that highlights all of them. We also can see how it connects to other user-generated content, so viewers can see what other people have experienced during other seasons.”

As part of a loan program formed by Google, Visit Estes Park staffers and interns as well as some volunteers wore the camera-topped backpacks last summer as they hiked the Lake Estes trail and the downtown Riverwalk in Estes Park, as well as the Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, Lily Lake, Knoll Willows, Deer Mountain, Forest Canyon Overlook and Toll Memorial trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.

In Boulder’s mountain parklands, meanwhile, staffers from the Google office recorded scenes in the Flatirons along the Vista South, Prairie Vista, Homestead, Shadow Canyon, Mesa, Marshall Mesa, Community Ditch, Marshall Valley, Doudy Draw, Spring Brook Loop South and Towhee trails, said Susan Cadrecha, communications manager for Google Maps.

“It’s kind of a wacky idea,” she said, “but we realized that people really enjoyed going to destinations they might not otherwise get to, or even looking at their childhood home.”

Since 2014, the Trekker loan program has worked with nonprofits and tourist boards, asking them to “collect the places they know and love,” Cadrecha said. “We do need help to do it. But since the release, we’ve worked with about 200 partners all over the world — and this is our moment in Colorado.”

The devices also were loaned to the Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau and other groups, allowing virtual viewers on their computers, tablets or Android or iOS cell phones to travel around places such the Denver Botanic Gardens, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Civic Center and Washington parks and the Denver Zoo, as well as the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and the Wild Animal Sanctuary near Keenesburg.

Viewers also can access the images by searching for a destination in Google Maps for mobile and then selecting the Street View option.

First used at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, the Trekker has since traveled to natural wonders and world heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal in India, the Galapagos Islands and the historic pedestrian paths in Venice. It’s also been walked into indoor spaces such as the legendary Berghoff German restaurant in Chicago’s Loop and a First Nations school in Iqaluit, the capital of Canada’s Nunavut territory. It’s been whitewater rafting on the Colorado River, strolling among the Pyramids in Egypt, and climbing Mount Fuji in Japan.

A Web page linking to other places the Trekker has been is online.

Direct links to many of the local trails featured include:

Flatirons, Vista South Trail

Flatirons, Prairie Vista 

Flatirons, Homestead Trail 

Flatirons, Shadow Canyon Trail 

Flatirons, Mesa Trail 

Flatirons, Marshall Mesa 

Flatirons, Community Ditch 

Flatirons, Marshall Valley 

Flatirons, Doudy Draw Trail 

Flatirons, Spring Brook Loop South Trail 

Flatirons, Towhee Trail 

Lake Estes Trail 

Estes Park Riverwalk 

Knoll Willows Trail, Estes Park 

Sprague Lake Trail, Estes Park 

Bear Lake Trail, Estes Park 

Lily Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park 

Deer Mountain Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park 

Forest Canyon Overlook, Rocky Mountain National Park 

Toll Memorial Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park 

Wild Animal Sanctuary 

Tech spars: Founder Fights boxing added to Boulder Startup Week lineup

BOULDER — When the word “valuation” enters the pre-bout boxing trash talk, you know it’s a pair of seasoned entrepreneurs stepping in the ring.

“Winner gets to pick valuation,” PivotDesk CEO David Mandell tweeted last week to Brad Feld, the Techstars cofounder and Boulder venture capitalist whose firm, Foundry Group, is an investor in PivotDesk.

Fightin’ words. Boulder-style.

Both men are signed up to participate in Founder Fights, a new event on the Boulder Startup Week calendar this year aiming to match up founders, VCs and other local business owners to raise money for charity. The event will be held in the New Vista High School gym on May 20, the final night of BSW.

Carrie Barry

Carrie Barry

David Mandell

David Mandell

It’s an event dreamed up by Mandell, who has been training with The Corner Boxing Club cofounder Carrie Barry for well over a year. The relationship started as a way for Mandell to rehab a bad back but quickly morphed into his newfound love of boxing.

Entrepreneurs are notorious, after all, for being consumed mentally, and often physically, by the pursuit of their companies. What better way to escape than by taking — or rather trying not to take — a few punches.

“With boxing, all of that stuff disappears,” Mandell said this week of the stresses of running a startup. “You’re so focused for that hour, it’s almost meditative because you don’t think about anything else. … Not only that, you get to hit stuff.”

“It’s completely changed my life over the year and a half I’ve been doing it.”

The idea of Founder Fights is one that’s quickly resonated in Boulder’s startup community. Barry said 18 people have signed up to participate so far. Noted startup coach Jerry Colonna is among them, as are Made Movement partner Graham Furlong and Premier Mortgage Group’s Ariel Solomon, a former University of Colorado and NFL football player. Techstars’ Nicole Glaros is one of the latest to throw her name in the ring, tweeting Tuesday, “ok. I’m in. how do I join?”

Of course, Mandell, Feld and the others will have to make it through Barry’s training regimen before they’re allowed to settle their fiscal feuds with gloves.

Far from your average strongman competition, Founder Fights will be a USA Boxing-sanctioned event run by Barry, a former U.S. national team captain.

Barry said fighters will be matched according to age, weight and ability, with plenty of emphasis on athlete safety. They’ll also be meeting at the gym at 5:30 a.m. a couple of days per week in the coming weeks to learn the basics of boxing and get ready. Nobody will box under the lights on May 20 without making it through the training and proving to Barry they’re ready, she said. Bouts, for the most part, will consist of three 1-minute rounds. About two weeks before Founder Fights, projected competitors will spar to make sure people are evenly matched.

Because who’s going to run the city’s startups if a bunch of ill-prepared founders get knocked out?

“Just because they sign up doesn’t mean I’m going to let them box,” Barry said.

Ideally, she said she’s hoping for about six or so founder bouts intermingled with four regular amateur bouts featuring fighters who train at her gym squaring off against fighters from other gyms.

Sponsor tables are going for between $1,000 and $3,000, with individual tickets also available at www.founderfights.com. New Vista will receive some of the door proceeds for hosting. But a title charity will also be selected to receive proceeds from the event. And participants themselves will be raising money, box-a-thon-style, for the charities of their choices as well.

“It’s a really cool opportunity for them to get their health back and get back into shape if they’ve gotten out of shape … do something competitive, and do something to give back to our community,” Barry said.

Barry cofounded The Corner Boxing Club, 5500 Central Ave., with her wife, Kirsten Marshall, not quite two years ago. The two coaches — Marshall is also an active competitor — also have Khumiso Ikgopoleng, a three-time Olympian from Botswana, on their staff.

While The Corner Boxing Club might be the first to stage a Founder Fights event, the club might not be the last.

Mandell said he’s gotten inquiries from other cities around the country that host their own startup weeks about staging similar events.

“We don’t want to commit to anything before we get through this one,” Mandell said. “But it could have a lot more legs.

“It’s certainly turned into a lot bigger event than we thought it would be at first.”

Submissions sought for Mercury 100 fastest-growing companies list

BizWest is seeking submissions for its Mercury 100 lists of fastest-growing private companies in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado. The Boulder Valley list will include companies based in Boulder and Broomfield counties, while the Northern Colorado list will include companies in Larimer and Weld counties. Both lists will rank companies based on two-year revenue growth.

To be included, companies:

• Must be headquartered in the Boulder Valley or Northern Colorado (Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer or Weld counties).

• Must be privately held.

• Must include revenue for each of the past three years (Each year’s revenues must include a full 12 months).

Companies in both lists will be divided into five “flights” based on revenue ranges. Rankings will be revealed at two Mercury 100 celebrations. The Northern Colorado event is scheduled for May 11 at McWhinney, 1880 Fall River Drive, in Loveland. The Boulder Valley program is May 25 at the Lionsgate Event Center at 1055 S. 112th St. in Lafayette.

To be considered for the Mercury 100 programs, companies can submit data here. Deadline for submission is March 9.

2016 Boulder County Business Hall of Fame inductees announced

LONGMONT — The Arnold family, Tom Kalinski, Joel Montbriand, Richard Polk, Christine Ralston, Leonard Strear and Don and Lee Weakland will be inducted into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame, the nonprofit organization announced today.

The 2016 class of inductees will be saluted by the area’s top business leaders at a luncheon to be held April 27 at the Plaza Convention Center in Longmont. Their awards will be displayed permanently in the convention center’s lobby, along with the Hall of Fame honorees from the previous 23 years.

The Arnold family has a history in the retail automobile business in Boulder and lists development of a business park and much civic involvement among its achievements. Sandy Arnold served in the Colorado Legislature and on the state Public Utilities Commission.

Kalinski is a real estate broker and owner of Re/Max of Boulder. Montbriand is president of Louisville-based Metamorph LLC and Gastroenterology of the Rockies. Polk, a former Boulder city councilman, is president of longtime Boulder footwear retailer Pedestrian Shops and chairs the board of the Dairy Arts Center. Ralston has been an antiques dealer in Lyons since 1974. Strear founded turkey processor Longmont Foods, and the Weaklands have operated The Flower Bin in Longmont since 1971.

This year’s inductees also will be honored at a March 16 VIP reception at the convention center, open only to event sponsors and Hall of Fame alumni.

The Boulder County Business Hall of Fame’s mission for 24 years has been to research, document and recommend for induction outstanding business leaders from the past and present whose business efforts have resulted in communitywide economic, social, and/or cultural benefits to Boulder County and its citizens.

The Hall of Fame also annually donates scholarships to deserving students at the CU Leeds School of Business.

Information about attending the luncheon is online at halloffamebiz.com.

Estes Park works to form business incubator

ESTES PARK — The tourist town at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park soon could have a business incubator that’s specially designed for a mountain resort community instead of the familiar models that are geared toward an urban technology corridor.

The Estes Park Economic Development Corp. this week announced the launch of its “Leveraging Human Capital for a Sustainable Business Incubator” initiative, tasked with developing a business plan for the program.

The project is being funded with the third and final portion of a $300,000 grant the town and the Estes Park EDC received in September 2014 from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

“In the wake of the 2013 floods, we were looking at what can we do not just to recover but to come back strong,” said Jon Nicholas, the EDC’s president and chief executive. “When we got this grant, we used part of it for initial planning for competitive broadband, and the second part to develop a regional economic strategy.”

After fielding competitive bids from nine consultants, the EDC hired Austin, Texas-based seed-stage venture-capital firm ATP Management LLC to help it lay the groundwork for the incubator.

“They’ve played such a big role throughout Texas, and they’ve also involved Mike Freeman at Innosphere,” Nicholas said. “All of these people have worked together in different contexts.”

Freeman, chief executive of the Fort Collins-based Innosphere business incubator, is part of the project team, along with Kyle Cox, manager of the ATP Fund; Isaac Barchas, head of the Austin Technology Incubator, the longest-established venture incubator; Ryan Field, research manager at ATI and lead researcher at LiveOak Venture Partners; and Jamie Rhodes, who founded the Central Texas Angel Network and the Association of Texas Angel Networks.

“We believe that Estes Park has unique, untapped assets and capabilities on which to build an incubator program with the potential for national draw,” said Cox, who is leading the project, in a prepared statement issued by the Estes Park EDC. “Our collaborative approach will design an incubator program that will complement and reinforce the unique assets and capabilities, support the businesses that grow from it, and market the resulting Estes Park ecosystem nationally and internationally.”

That ecosystem is profoundly different from others in the region, Nicholas said, and it thus requires different approaches and goals.

“Because we are a resort community, we will not look like an incubator in Fort Collins or Denver,” Nicholas said. “We’ve looked around at what other resort communities are doing, such as the Telluride Venture Accelerator, to narrow down who our target market is: local businesses that want to expand, and then outdoor gear, apparel, wellness-oriented businesses, breweries, and arts-and-crafts-related businesses that are very suitable for our community. How can Estes Park become a destination for them?”

Nicholas and the project managers also will tap local talent, both to get the incubator going and to sustain it.

“A lot of second-home owners here have a lot of expertise and knowledge that could prove valuable to startups,” Nicholas said. “The first step is in creating an entrepreneur- and startup-friendly community. Between Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, there’s a great deal of entrepreneurship and support networks for that.”

The Estes Park EDC also is forming a local committee including Estes Valley business owners, entrepreneurs and angel investors to help complete the project.

The team from Texas will visit Estes Park March 8-10 for a series of what Nicholas said would be both private meetings and opportunities for public discussion and involvement.

“It’ll be a chance for us to determine what kind of services we can offer that will create a sustainable business model for the incubator itself,” Nicholas said. “Is it a traditional incubator versus an accelerator? What role would a co-working space play? Will it be for-profit or nonprofit?

“A lot of this is about creating the community,” he said. “Investors want to know they can identify good opportunities, and startups want to know they’re getting access to the programs and resources that will help them.”

More information will be available on the EDC’s website, estesparkedc.com.