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Colorado Springs is bullish on small business 

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Starting a small business in the U.S. is emblematic of the American dream.

In fact, one of our comparative advantages is the ability to have an idea for a product or service, and the courage — and even audacity — to start a business around that idea.

This capability not only creates jobs, it also expands the menu of products and services that can be offered and sold, both domestically and internationally. In addition, the ability to start and grow new businesses makes the U.S. responsive to changes in technology, consumer preferences and other external factors. New business formation makes us nimble and competitive.

The state of Colorado is particularly good at new business formation and small business growth. Consider that in the U.S. from 2014 to 2015, the number of new establishments less than 1 year old increased by 4 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics). In Colorado, from March 2016 to March 2017, new entities grew by 7.7 percent. In that time span, existing entity renewals increased 6.5 percent (Colorado Secretary of State). This is much of the reason the state of Colorado now has the lowest unemployment rate (2.6 percent) in the U.S.: Entrepreneurship is alive and well, and small businesses are thriving. In the 2016 Kauffman rankings, Colorado ranks No. 1 among the 25 "larger states" in terms of the adult population owning a business (8.56 percent). Our state ranks No. 4 overall in the "Main Street" ranking, which measures established small businesses fewer than five years old with fewer than 50 employees.

What is more, Colorado businesses are spread across many sectors, making us diverse and perhaps more insulated from wide fluctuations in select industries than other states that rely on fewer sectors (e.g., oil and gas). From 2014 to 2015, there were a dozen sectors that hovered around the 4 percent growth rate (see graph). Colorado's industry diversification and highly educated workforce (among other assets) are bolstered by a relatively friendly business environment.

This will be one of the topics of the upcoming State of Small Business event with its panel of content experts (bit.ly/2StateofSB). Locally, the Pikes Peak SBDC plays a key role in these successes as the infographic illustrates. Across the state and locally, we can continue to fuel our own growth by capitalizing on these various assets and capitalizing on the current momentum that has brought us to these enviable heights.

— Tatiana Bailey

Tatiana Bailey is director of the UCCS Economic Forum. She can be reached at tbailey6@uccs.edu.

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