Small Business Development Center opens Feb. 14 in Douglas County as part of innovative public/private education partnership

On Feb. 14, the Aurora-South Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Arapahoe Community College (ACC) and the Colorado State University System opened a SBDC office within the ACC Sturm Collaboration Campus in Castle Rock, launching a one-of-a-kind partnership in South Denver that will leverage diverse resources to serve small business owners and engage the next generation of entrepreneurs.

With a goal toward economic prosperity for Colorado, the new office within the educational campus will marry formal degree and certificate-based education as well as a focus on business creation and development. This location will be the first SBDC office in Douglas County.

Small Business Development Center logo

“The establishment of the Douglas County SBDC satellite office located at the Castle Rock Sturm Collaboration Campus, will provide Colorado residents and students with access to business knowledge, tools, expertise, and capital needed to successfully launch and develop their businesses through SBDC services or in tandem with the higher education business program education,” said CSU System Chief Education Innovation Officer Becky Takeda-Tinker.

The move provides a pathway toward individual and state economic success, supplementing formal business education with small and start-up business support through workshops, training, and individualized counseling sessions, as well as access to grant and loan funding through the Federal Small Business Administration that powers the SBDC.

Marcia McGilley, executive director of the Aurora-South Metro SBDC, currently hosted by the City of Aurora, serves businesses in Aurora, and Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. McGilley said the task of finding a place to offer free, confidential one-on-one business consulting is about identifying the right mix of creativity, innovation, and client demand.

“We have been diligently working to find the right location to open a satellite office in Douglas County and we now have that location and the perfect partners,” McGilley said.

The Sturm Collaboration Campus opened in 2019 as a unique partnership among a school district, community college, and four-year university system. The campus offers 1+1+2 programs that meet students where they are and allows them to enter a pathway program – such as business, accounting or cybersecurity – and gain dual enrollment credit in high school, add a year of community college for an associate degree, and then layer in two years of four-year programming to gain a bachelor’s degree.

“This partnership rounds out the Sturm Collaboration Campus’s goal of convening the local talent development ecosystem in a one stop shop from DCSD, ACC, CSU, AD Works, and now the SBDC,” said Eric Dunker, vice president for Workforce and Economic Development at Arapahoe Community College. “We are so thankful to our partners for their support so Douglas County residents can now get small business consulting in their own community which will yield more economic and talent mobility for our region.”

The addition of an SBDC office takes the existing partnership at the Sturm Collaboration Campus to the next level. Now, the hope is that students can earn their degrees while creating and developing their businesses with support from the SBDC and professors, while also engaging local community members to utilize both SBDC and Sturm Campus services and educational opportunities.  

“This partnership allows us to marry higher education and workforce resources, allowing us to meet learners where they’re at and create job pipelines that are critical to our state,” said CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank.We are grateful to the State of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade and Aurora-South Metro SBDC, and Arapahoe Community College for their partnership in making the vision a reality to serve Coloradans in new ways.”