Who are we?
Name: Joe Livingston
Position: Small Business Development Center Director
For almost six years, Small Business Development Center Director Joe Livingston has been counseling business people about how to run a successful business. Now he is taking his own advice. At the end of this week Joe will become a full-blown capitalist in the private sector, leaving SBDC direction to someone else.
The SBDC is a federally-funded partnership between Colorado Mountain College and the Colorado Office of Economic Development which funds 17 such centers throughout the state. Joe became Director of SBDC at Colorado Mountain College in 1999 after working for a year as a counselor for the Center. To his clients he brought a background in business that included a stint as Director of Aspen Central Reservations Travel. Joe has also owned and operated a number of businesses including Papa Joe’s Natural Cereals which he recently sold.
Now he hopes to work in a partnership that will deliver online business services such as bookkeeping, accounting and marketing resources. Joe is very bullish not only about this opportunity but also about burgeoning online business especially in rural areas.
As far as the impacts of technology, we have just seen the tip of the iceberg, he says. I think our whole view of business is going to change dramatically, and it will impact education. Colorado Mountain College is on the right track to determine how this can best be delivered.
Joe tells of a small manufacturing company in the CMC District that markets its products online. The average sale of their products is $3800, and in January alone they sold 60 units.
Business people in this area have access to the market place that they didn’t have under the previous structure.
Looking back, Joe is proud of his work with economic development in local communities. Under Joe’s direction, the SBDC at Colorado Mountain College has organized local workshops for business people to learn of the latest trends and plan for the economic future in their area. One ongoing result of this is an economic development group that meets regularly in New Castle to discuss economic planning, and an informal business roundtable discussion at a local restaurant each Friday.
Many business owners come to SBDC facing significant challenges. Others are looking for sound advice as they start their business. These are some of Joe’s most gratifying memories. Though the funding for business counseling has remained flat, the demand has grown sharply with the population. Still, Joe has seen several businesses survive and thrive through challenges as he has counseled them.
One of his favorite stories is of a 32-year-old woman who was forced to leave her home in El Salvador as a teenager. She came SBDC with a dream of starting her own business and providing for her extended family. Joe helped her develop a business plan, then helped her pursue a business loan from a non-traditional source.
That will make a big difference in her life. I think she will do well with it. It is exciting when I see the impact this work has on an individual life.
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