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Success Stories

Teaching Tree Early Childhood LC

Northern Colorado businesses are working hard to fill workforce needs. One of the main barriers is the availability and cost of child care, which can run as high as $16,000 annually for infant care. Teaching Tree, a nonprofit with facilities in Fort Collins and Loveland, has provided quality child care since 1970, with much of this care supporting low-moderate income families. Teaching Tree is undertaking an ambitious expansion that will double its child care capacity in Fort Collins.

Serving children from infancy through age five, Teaching Tree provides stimulating programs, healthy meals, and recreation, all geared to develop the whole child. Teaching Tree currently supports 49 children in Loveland, and 101 at its Fort Collins center, located in a city-owned building that Teaching Tree shares with United Way of Larimer County. Upon learning of United Way’s plans to relocate, Teaching Tree entered into a unique partnership with United Way and the City to expand in place, enabling the center to double in size and increase its child care capacity to over 200 kids!

Anne Lance, Teaching Tree’s Executive Director since 2002, was referred to the Larimer SBDC by the City of Fort Collins Social Sustainability office. The expansion would require $2M in capital funding, plus projections that Teaching Tree could continue to operate successfully. “Tapping into the expertise of the SBDC help guide our development of a business plan, complete with cost projections,” said Anne.

Anne and Teaching Tree’s long-time grant writer, Kathy Hayes, had several meetings with the SBDC to develop the plan, including financials. “The SBDC helped us develop a concise business plan and provided a lot of help with financials, cost projections and organizational charts,” Anne said. “They recommended we get a line-of-credit to help with cash flow unpredictability. A big key was when the SBDC helped present the plan to our board. They gave a simplified view from an outsider’s perspective, which was informative, especially to our newer board members.”

Teaching Tree has already raised over 70% of the $2M required for the expansion, and is also evaluating low-interest financing options. The facility expansion is expected to be completed in early 2020.

The Larimer SBDC is proud to assist a great organization like Teaching Tree!

The Magic Bus Tours

Fort Collins has an amazing amount of things to see and do. No business, however, had offered a service as fun and forward thinking as Magic Bus Tours to create a unique and educational experience around the local activities. “When I first started visiting Fort Collins, I loved learning about the local history, lifestyles and culture, but I couldn’t find another bus-tour service in town,” said Michael Murphy, founder and visionary behind Magic Bus Tours.

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Wordsmith Wood Shop

Loveland area couple Gib and Lisa Coalwell made a few wooden boxes decorated with sayings but a large order put a toll on their small laser engraver. The owners of Wordsmith Wood Shop needed to hire staff, get three more engravers and quickly learn manufacturing on a large scale. The couple blends handcrafted wood and engraved words to create heirloom boxes, bookmarks, recipe cards, coasters, magnets and cutting boards for their wholesale, retail and individual

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Rain Boutique

Opening Rain Boutique, a shop featuring refreshingly wearable clothing with a sprinkling of unique gifts and housewares, took a lot of guidance. That was when Kristin Mouton turned to the Larimer County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for practical advice. “My counselor at SBDC really kept me going and gave me a lot of reassurance, even after I had been turned down by two banks for a business loan,” said Mouton. Mouton started with an

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Beau & Belle Littles

The true measure of a successful product is: Does it solve a customer problem? As new, active parents, Paul and Rachelle Baron faced a common problem when trying to take their little one swimming. They wanted a high quality, reusable swim diaper that handled solid waste well, but there was nothing on the market that met their standards. “The problems we saw were that disposables were not good quality, didn’t contain solid waste well, and

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Rodeo News

Siri Steven has a passion for life, a desire to educate, and a work ethic and determination that have made Rodeo News the successful, nationally recognized magazine it is today. “This is the culmination of all of the things I have learned in 40 years.” Good friends, life circumstances, and hard work brought Rodeo News into her life, and she has devoted herself to its success completely. After getting her start working on the publication

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Clay’s Ace Hardware

In 2014, Tim and Julie Kenney purchased Clay’s Ace Hardware, a mainstay of south Fort Collins since the original owners, Jim and Lisa Clay, started the store in 1998. Tim and Julie felt the entrepreneurial call, but did not necessarily want to start their own business, so they began looking for businesses to purchase. Their focus rested on a brand that was recognizable, and an existing business that had a culture built around service to

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