A new City of Thornton program hopes to help small businesses throughout Adams County and beyond — not just with tech support, equipment and office space but with technical know-how and help …
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A new City of Thornton program hopes to help small businesses throughout Adams County and beyond — not just with tech support, equipment and office space but with technical know-how and help writing grants.
“It’s all here to help these small businesses and the home-based businesses overcome and recover from COVID,” said Marketing Specialist Karen Bigelow. “All of our small businesses are in jeopardy now, and what we can offer them is pretty huge.”
The Thornton Economic Development department officially opened the Alliance/Alianza Business Assistance Center, 550 E. Thornton Parkway on Oct. 8. Equal parts co-working space and business counseling, the center is free to use for small and home-based businesses in Adams County.
“But we won’t stop any who wants to come in,” Bigelow said. “Even though we are located in Thornton and we’re funded by Thornton, we are promoting ourselves to the entire county. All the different chambers and the Adams County Regional Economic Partnership are sending people are way because we are the only place of it’s kind.”
Bigelow said that need for the center comes directly from COVID-19.
“People can’t just go in to Starbucks any more and use their wi-fi, so we have wi-fi here they can use,” she said.
The office also has four different work areas with multiple desks. That includes socially-distanced meeting spaces and multiple large flat-screen monitors linked to cameras, especially designed for hosting or attending virtual meetings, like the Zoom or Go to Meeting platforms.
The center also has 20 laptop computers that can be used in the building.
“One little thing we can do is help small businesses set up and optimize their Facebook pages,” she said. “A lot of small businesses are busy doing what they need to do, and they may not know how to use Facebook or other social media to promote their businesses. But we can help, and they’ll have a complete Facebook page for their business when they walk out.”
Robin Martinez, Thornton’s local business administrator, said the center is part of Thornton’s response to COVID-19 and the stay at home orders this spring that threatened to close many small businesses across the country.
“In the back of my mind, I’ve known this was something that was really needed, but it wasn’t planned out before COVID hit,” Martinez said.
They were approved in July and Martinez began working on herself in August, with Bigelow and other staff joining the effort in September. The building was open early in the month, but the programs didn’t start until mid-October.
“We’ve been trying to establish our processes, from sign-in forms to temperature checks and what information we need to collect and our marketing,” Martinez said.
It’s funded jointly by the city’s federal CARES Act allocation, by the Colorado Small Business Development Center, Mi Casa Resource Center and SCORE, a federal non-profit that pairs entrepreneurs with small business counselors.
Business counseling will be a big part of the Alliance Center’s offerings, Martinez said. The list of events is available at thealliancebusinesscenter.com under the “Events”.
“There are a immense number of workshops on the calendar already for October and November,” Bigelow said. “Its amazing the kind of support we are getting from our partners.”
Completed seminars offered earlier this month discussed how to use Zoom to promote a business, low cost marketing strategies during COVID-19, using social media and COVID-19 grants, financial assistance and other resources.
A seminar scheduled for Oct. 22 discussed COVID resources for small business. Another, scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 27, discusses how to use Google while a Nov. 3 seminar talks about graphic design.
The seminars are offered in English and in Spanish.
Martinez said all of the workshops and seminars are specifically tuned for COVID social distancing, with a place for the speakers to broadcast and multiple places around the center for people to watch divided by Plexiglas separators. They can also sign up to watch from home if they want and have the ability.
“The businesses that are not really prepared for want we’re in right now, we really want to get them prepared,” Martinez said. “If this continues, they can start to build their business. They can build it online and have sales and revenues coming in without having to meet face-to-face with their customers. That’s our hope, to help those who are not ready.”
COVID resources for Small Businesses
2-3:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Alliance Business Assistance Center, 550 E. Thornton Parkway
(A Spanish-language version is scheduled from 4-5:30 p.m. Oct. 22)
RSVP at thealliancebusinesscenter.com under the “Events” heading or email karen.bigelow@Thorntonco.gov
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