Potential funding and talk of a new co-working space in Mt. CB
By Cayla Vidmar
Delaney Keating and Dan Marshall of the ICElab at Western State Colorado University made a funding request at the June 5 Mt. Crested Butte town council meeting, and were met with support but no immediate dollars by council members. The request was for $34,000, but due to budgeting and timing, the council was unable to commit to a specific dollar amount, but had other suggestions, including potential locations for a co-working space, and plenty of enthusiasm.
During the presentation, director Keating and director of programming Marshall shared the ICElab’s mission and the purpose of the funding request. The ICElab, Community Development, and the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association (GCBTA) have joined forces to formalize economic development efforts, in lieu of an official economic development department. The primary goal of “The Project Team,” is the 5-10-7 project, which hopes to create, grow and/or attract 5 businesses with $10 million in revenue in the next 7 years in the Gunnison Valley.
Keating wants to highlight that bringing new business to the Gunnison valley is not the sole mission of ICElab, but rather only a portion of its goals. Other projects, including the business accelerator and incubator programs, help to nurture businesses that are already located in the Gunnison Valley, and have success stories ranging from First Ascent Coffee and Yoga for the Peaceful in Crested Butte.
The project has a laundry list of goals that need to be funded, ranging from building the website, to marketing efforts, including videos, and a podcast, along with workforce training and research and development. They have received funding from the City of Gunnison and Gunnison County, to the tune of $34,000 and $50,000 respectively, with $33,000 from the county earmarked for ICElab and the remainder to support the Small Business Development Center housed at the ICElab.
ICElab also went to the Town of Crested Butte for a funding request, but did not receive funding. Mayor Jim Schmidt stated during the Mt. CB town council meeting that he had requested ICElab apply for the annual grant cycle, but they did not. In response, Keating stated, “our team decision to not apply for the grant was to not compete for local dollars that nonprofits rely on for regular work.”
“I think everyone in this room knows how significant entrepreneurialism is in this valley I mean you have a few entrepreneurs sitting up here at this table right now,” said council member Ken Lodovico. “I would highly encourage and would really be behind this council trying to support the ICElab one way or another.”
Ultimately, the council was unable to commit to funding during the town council meeting, however town manager Joe Fitzpatrick stated, “I think we can look at it for 2019, but trying to do it in 2018 is pushing it.” Fitzpatrick continued, stating, “the challenge we’re facing now is that we’re trying to build a maintenance building, and we’re doing a lot of road work.”
Aside from funding, ICElab is also looking to bring a co-work space to Mt. Crested Butte. “We’re a collaborative workspace, and we rent to lots of north valley residents, and more and more are from Mt. Crested Butte,” said Keating, describing the various office and desk spaces the ICElab rents at significantly less than average market prices.
The desire for the space to be in Mt. CB stems from an increase of the remote workforce, along with the ski resort. “We’ve been thinking Mt. CB because of the ski area, where people could jump into the workspace, do a meeting remotely and then be able to extend their trip,” stated Marshall.
“How dirty is the space we’re trying to move out of next door, Joe, because with the high ceiling and big garage doors, it’s not a bad spot on the main path for a site like that,” asked Mt. CB mayor Todd Barnes, referring to the current maintenance facility next to town hall. “Its just a thought, it’s a unique spot, it’s on the beaten path, there could be potential over there,” stated Barnes.
Ultimately, the funding was not granted during the June 5 meeting, but ICElab was met with significant support from the council, with potential for future funding, along with ideas for their new co-working space.