Grants fuel Estes accelerator

ESTES PARK — Registration remains open for a six-month accelerator program for businesses in the Estes Valley that has expanded thanks to federal and state grants.

Launched by the Estes Park Economic Development Corp., Larimer Small Business Development Center and Innosphere Ventures, the Business Accelerator Services of Estes program provides customized, hands-on assistance and resources to startups and scale-ups in the Estes Valley. The EDC’s Entrepreneurial Center got a boost for the program after receiving a three-year, $460,000 reimbursable grant from the Federal Economic Development Agency and a $50,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, said Adam Shake, president and chief executive of the Estes Park EDC. The grants “allow us to expand the program to allow 30 businesses per year instead of just 10,” he said.

“It’s a mini-MBA for business owners,” Shake said, adding that the grants “allow those businesses to join the program for free.”

Professors from the University of Colorado Boulder will be among the instructors for the program, Shake said, and the grant money will pay them as well as covering the costs of training and space. It also allowed the EDC to hire a full-time BASE program manager, he said, adding that the EDC is interviewing for that position now.

“This was a challenging grant-application process and took over a year to go through the approval process,” said Shake, crediting grant specialist Christy Crosser and the town of Estes Park for their assistance and support.

“As Estes Park recovers from both the COVID-19 pandemic and record-setting wildfires from 2020, investments in the community and the economy are absolutely critical,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., in a news release issued when the federal grant was announced. “We’re grateful to see federal resources flowing into this successful program to benefit the residents of Estes Park.”

The program will offer different topics every month from October through March and help businesses come up with business plans for each topic. Subjects covered will include business-model mapping, purpose, market research and advertising strategies. Each program will end in April with a pitch competition where members of the cohort can present their products or services, business strategy and scale-up plans to a panel of judges.

According to an EDC news release, “the BASE program serves all types of businesses, from cleaning services to restaurants and bars, professional services, outdoor industries and more.”

More information about the program is online at, and applications are at