Welcome to the East Colorado SBDC

At the East Colorado Small Business Development Center, we are dream focused and business minded.

We offer business consulting and training that maximizes the economic potential of entrepreneurs within East Colorado. Our mission is to help existing and new businesses grow and prosper. Our goal at the Small Business Development Center is to help emerging and existing entrepreneurs gain control of their business operations.  While we cannot eliminate risk, we work to minimize it by helping clients write comprehensive business plans, conduct financial forecasts, create marketing tactics, apply for funding, and improve operations. Let us help maximize your business potential.

The East Colorado SBDC covers thirteen counties in Colorado – Adams, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, and Yuma. 

In 2019, the East Colorado SBDC proudly received SBA’s Region VIII Award for Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation. Region VIII covers Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, 

East CO Consultants & Staff

Director of the East Colorado SBDC & UNC BizHub Collaborative

Lisa Hudson

I’m very involved in the community and sit on the board of directors for the Boy Scouts of America and I’m the chair of the marketing committee. Over the years I have helped my community develop and grow and I’m looking forward to continuing on this path through my new role as the Director of the East Colorado SBDC & UNC BizHub.

I graduated in 2010 from the Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Business Marketing and a minor in Spanish. During my education, I participated in a study abroad program at the Universidad de Guadalajara and studied Marketing and Spanish. I am bilingual and provide consulting in Spanish and English. I joined the East Colorado SBDC in 2010 as a Marketing Specialist and Business Consultant, responsible for promotions and communication of the Center as well as guiding local companies through start-up and growth phases. Starting in 2012 I was promoted to the Associate Director of the East Colorado SBDC.

I grew up in rural Colorado in the home of an entrepreneur and have always had a passion for small business. In January of 2017, I was promoted to the Director for the East Colorado SBDC and UNC BizHub, becoming the first millennial as a director for Colorado SBDC. I am excited about having the opportunity to move up in the organization and helping small businesses grow in Colorado.

I connect with the people that live and thrive in this region and want to continue to help in developing the local economy. I have been with the organization for seven years and have contributed to building the center. With about 600 clients during my career as a certified small business consultant and over 3200 hours consulting with small businesses, I have developed great relationships and successful businesses with the East Colorado area. I was the chair of the marketing committee for the Colorado SBDC which branded the network as a whole and I have played an active role in the technology committee for the upcoming new T designation. I am now the chair of the fundraising committee for the Colorado SBDC network and look forward to what the rest of 2017 will bring.


East CO SBDC Office:970-351-4274

Associate Director and Weld County Business Consultant

Kyla Benson

Kyla Benson is a Colorado native. She joined the East Colorado SBDC in June 2014 as the Director of Events and Business Consultant for Weld County.

Kyla was responsible for organizing and scheduling workshops and webinars for the center. She created and managed the center’s communications on all upcoming events. Additionally, Kyla worked to identify new platforms to increase event attendance and participation.

Ms. Benson has been promoted to the Associate Director. Kyla works to create sponsor relationships, arrange professional development, and continues to manage some of the center’s communications. As a Business Consultant, she is responsible for aiding small businesses during start-up plan development and throughout various growth stages.

Kyla graduated from Brigham Young University – Idaho in 2014 and holds a Bachelors of Arts in International Studies with an emphasis in Business Management and a minor in Russian. Kyla has participated in multiple international activities from teaching in the Gorki Captain School near Moscow, Russia to a study abroad program in Kiev, Ukraine where she attended the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (МАУП). While in Ukraine, she helped to coordinate activities in the marketing office at the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup competition at Bukovel. During her last semester, she helped establish, operate, and close a small business (The Four Corners, Navajo Tacos and Scones).


East CO SBDC Office:970-351-4274

Program Coordinator

Jenn Negley

Jenn Negley joined the East Colorado SBDC as a Business Consultant in April 2014. As a consultant, Jenn assists small business owners in Northern Colorado with the start up and growth of their businesses. She graduated from the Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado with a B.S. Business Administration with an emphasis in Management. Before joining the SBDC, Jenn worked at the Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurship Department helping to organize and market the Entrepreneurship Challenge business plan competition. Jenn has experience in the retail and food industries as well as the nonprofit sector.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Fiscal Manager

Michelle Bolhuis

Michelle grew up in a small agricultural college town in Iowa. Throughout her youth, she spent a lot of time in Colorado as many a vacation brought her here most summers while growing up. She moved to Colorado with her husband in 1993 where she found a position with Medtronic Blood Management as the Service Coordinator. Her responsibilities included scheduling machines for service either in-house or with a field service representative, all while pursuing a Business Administration Degree with Columbia College in Aurora. She found her first job in Higher Education working for Denver Technical College first as the Assistant Registrar and later becoming a Financial Aid Officer. Denver Technical College was purchased and merged with DeVry Institute. After the merger, Michelle went to Alliant Food Service where she worked as a Human Resources Coordinator. Alliant Foodservice was later sold and is now US Foodservice.

After moving to Northern Colorado, Michelle worked for Weld County as an Income Maintenance Technician determining benefit eligibility. She was quickly promoted into the Fiscal Office where she worked in various positions for 9 years ending as the Reporting Accounting Supervisor. Michelle was hired at UNC in 2016 as the Budget and Financial Analyst for Dining Service. Michelle has volunteered for her church, her community in rural Weld County, the Weld Food Bank, and Meals on Wheels of Greeley. Michelle joined the SBDC in October of 2021 as the Fiscal Manager.

Michelle loves to spend time with her family and friends enjoying the Colorado great outdoors, at a Colorado Rockies game, UNC Bears Football, or Bears Basketball games.


East CO SBDC Office::(970) 351-4274

Elbert County Business Consultant

Craig Curl

SBDC Business Consultant
Curl Company LLC – Business Consultant
Craig Curl Fine Arts – Artist – Business Art Consultant

50 Years’ Experience: As a Business Owner, Business Development Specialist and Business Consultant.
I have provided professional services for the Private and Public Sectors, including Fortune 500 Companies, Private Individuals, Construction Contracting Companies, Real Estate Owner / Developers, Real Estate Investors, Real Estate Advisors, Schools, Universities, Foundations & Grants, Financial Institutions, Public Utilities, Gas & Oil Service Companies, Renewable Energy Services, Sewer & Water Agencies, Local, State and Federal Government Agencies.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Weld County Business Consultant

Kenny Overby

Kenny Overby is a Colorado native and small business owner. Entrepreneurship started early for Kenny, who opened his first business at the age of 14, and has owned ten businesses throughout Colorado and Texas. Kenny joined the SBDC in November of 2021 as a business consultant.

Kenny graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s in corporate finance and is currently studying to earn his MBA. Kenny is passionate about helping others chase their own business dreams, and enjoys helping business owners develop the skills and discipline needed to enjoy being an entrepreneur. Outside of work, Kenny is the proud father of a three-year-old daughter and enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, skiing.


East CO SBDC Office::(970) 351-4274

Spanish Speaking Weld County Business Consultant

Jeisy Castillo

Born in Mexico, raised in Greeley Colorado, I graduated from Greeley Central high school in 2004. After high school, I attended the Institute of Business and Medical Careers where I obtained my Associate Degrees of General Business Administration and General Administration of Legal Office. I attended Aims Community College, Metropolitan State College of Denver and Florida International University, all while working full time for various industries.

My experience started with managing a rental car office in Greeley, to being a manager and bookkeeper of four construction companies in Windsor in 2009. Here I learned the majority of the skills I use today: customer service, bookkeeping, managing a business, bank reconciliations and working with subcontractors. I also experienced, first hand, the importance of small businesses and their impact on the community. After moving to Denver in 2010 and while attending Metropolitan State College of Denver, I became the Treasury Accounting Coordinator for American Blue Ribbon Holdings, also known as, the corporate office for the Village Inn restaurants. Here, I managed and made sure monies from all the Village Inn and sister companies around the United States made it to the corporate bank.

After getting married in 2011, my husband and I moved to Miami Florida. I attended Florida International University and worked for Chetu Inc., a software building company. Later in 2013, I worked as a Staff Accountant for a retirement village that consisted of independent living, assisted living and Health Services. Recently, I started a family and I am a proud mom of a two-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy. I am also the owner of Probook Consulting, LLC and today, I focus mainly on being present for my family while helping those around me create their dream business a reality.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-2474

Cell:(970) 616-0154

Weld County Business Consultant

Jeff Engell

Jeff Engell is a Colorado native who grew up in Northern Colorado. He completed his Bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University in Business and Finance and later went on to receive his Master’s in Economics from Lund University in Lund, Sweden. His post-graduate career centered on building his own consultancy, which has supported over 300+ small-to-medium sized enterprises grow from the idea stage to scale in agriculture, energy, life science, food security, IT, and cleantech sectors. His consulting expertise ranges from; ideation phase, to product-market fit, to fundraising, of which he has participated in the placement of over $60 million of debt, equity, and grant financing.

Jeff enjoys traveling and has had the good fortune to travel, work, and live in Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, India, and Africa. Being from Colorado, he also enjoys the great outdoors, having summited over 40 of Colorado’s 14,000’ peaks.

Jeff joins the SBDC with a personal commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and innovators who are shaping the current and future economic trajectory of the great state of Colorado. He believes strongly in the mission of the SBDC and takes great satisfaction from helping others to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and goals.



East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Weld County Business Consultant

Jesse Esparza

As the CEO of Morning Sun Enterprises LLC, Jesse has provided guidance and supported a variety of individuals, organizations and companies. At the present he is a certified bilingual(Spanish & English) counselor to the Latino Chamber, a certified bilingual counselor and business advisor to the East Colorado, the Boulder and North Metro Small Business Development Centers, providing one on one services to individuals as well as group classes in business planning and start-up seminars.

He has counseled and provided needed services and resources to over 400 new potential and existing entrepreneurs. He has participated as a Board member of the Carbon Valley Chamber in Firestone, Colorado and the President of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Boulder County. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the Boulder County Work Force.

His professional career has included 31 years as an educator 21 of those years as a principal. His leadership skills include helping individual improve their performance, cross cultural education, improving organizations, business development, and tapping potential and appropriate resources. He was the Colorado Small Business Development Center volunteer of the year in 2007 and the Small Business Development Center Counselor of the Year in 2009.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274


Logan County Business Consultant

Laurie Jones

Laurie Ganong Jones has global corporate, entrepreneurial, and consulting experience with a focus in finance, marketing and business research. Working for firms in Chicago, Los Angeles, and in Colorado, she has been involved with a wide variety of industries including manufacturing and technology. Prior to joining the SBDC, she was a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones. After co-founding a customer support business that was sold to Sykes Enterprises in 1992, she worked for Sykes through 2000 where she was instrumental in growing sales from $1M to over $200M in 5 years which led to the company’s IPO. She co-founded Sterling Bio-Technologies in 2003 and held leadership roles in several other start up business.

Ms. Jones was named a finalist in the 2005 and 2004 American Business Awards Stevie Lifetime Achievement for Women Entrepreneurs and served as a national judge. Ms. Jones is a member of the Colorado Venture Capital Authority, member of the Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of Colorado, and former Vice Chair of the Colorado Economic Development Commission. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California – Davis, and an MBA from Pepperdine University.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Morgan County Business Consultant

Merle Rhoades

As an entrepreneur, educator, farmer, author, speaker, consultant, and business coach/trainer, Dr. Rhoades has been working with start-up and existing businesses in getting to the” next level” for nearly two decades. After owning several businesses, serving as a college administrator (Chief Financial Officer), and teaching business classes at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, he was asked to serve as the Director of the Small Business Development Center at Morgan Community College working with businesses in an 18,000-square mile territory in the far Northeastern and Eastern Colorado. He retired in 2008, but his retirement did not last long as he was asked in 2009 to join the East Colorado SBDC as a business consultant for Morgan County. Dr. Rhoades company, BBR Limited Liability Company, provides independent consulting and services in business, music, education, and retail.

Dr. Rhoades has a BA degree in Business Education with specializing in Accounting from the University of Northern Colorado; a MA in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Career Education from the same university, and a Ph.D. degree in Administration from Colorado State University. He is known for his leadership in Career and Technical Education and Economic Development, serving on many boards at local, state, and national levels; he has received numerous awards at the local, state, and national levels. His greatest reward is watching his business clients and former students become successful. He works with people in all aspect of business including; strategic planning, financing, marketing, and management. He starts with his clients as a consultant and then becomes their business coach as he works with them in lead generation, marketing, management, and financial analysis.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Lincoln and Yuma Counties Business Consultant

Raejean Palko

Raejean Palko is a Colorado Native. She grew up on a small farm east of Aurora, lived in Durango, and most recently settled down in Limon. Mrs. Palko earned her BA in Humanities and her AA in Agriculture at Fort Lewis College.

Raejean has continuously found herself working among small businesses and local non-profits within the communities that she has lived in. In 1995, Raejean helped to launch and later manage a mobile mechanic business using the Leading Edge program. Later, she assisted her parents in the launch of a restaurant in Red Feather Lake. Again, Raejean assisted with the paperwork and payroll. She served as secretary and bookkeeper of the La Plata Soil Conservation and for the Resource Conservation & Development for a couple years.

Mrs. Palko’s expertise ranges from bookkeeping & Quickbooks, to time management and HR/management. Raejean’s stint with non-profits broadened her knowledge of non-profits, governmental agencies, grants and working with a volunteer board.

Raejean is a mother of three and also a grandmother. Outside of work, she has been very active in her church, PTO, and 4H on both local and state levels. She continues to operate a small ruminate ranch south of Limon. Raejean is eager to work with her new community.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Limon Satellite Office:(719) 775-9070

Arapahoe and Adams Counties Business Consultant

Tracy Carter

Tracy Carter was born and raised in a rural farming community in central Nebraska, she moved to Eastern Colorado in 2004. Tracy has over 25 years working retail/wholesale running a 75M business, helping small business owners and non-profit organizations. Tracy has owned small businesses in construction and investment/real-estate; she understands the changing landscape and the competitive nature that comes with entrepreneurship, and the fast-changing habits of consumers. Tracy’s skills and expertise range from Risk Management, P&L / KPI Measurements, Marketing, Social Media, Workforce Planning and Grants, she has a strong background in the fresh food/ restaurant sector behind concepts and compliance at the federal, state and local levels.

Tracy is a mother of two daughters one residing in Rush and the other in Windsor, CO. Active in volunteering for several organizations including Children’s Miracle Network, Arapahoe County Fair and a board member for I-70 Corridor Chamber of Commerce. She is looking forward to working with Arapahoe and Adams County.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Cell Phone:303-947-4669

Phillips County Business Consultant

Trisha Herman

Trisha Herman was raised in Kansas City area and graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Community Service.

Herman and her husband have been on the Colorado Eastern Plains since 2006 and moved to Holyoke in 2010. Before beginning her career in Economic Development she has worked various jobs in the Educations field from teaching preschool, kindergarten and running her own daycare. Her most recent experience was serving as the Executive Director for Phillips County Education Services for the last 7 years. Through this position, Herman has gained experience in nonprofits, office and bookkeeping, grant writing and managing others. Herman is also no stranger to Phillips County due to her active involvement in the community. She serves on the Holyoke City Recreation Committee, She is the Secretary of the Holyoke Childcare Initiative, and she serves on her church’s Board of Education. Herman also opened her own business in 2015 and started the Holyoke Fitness Club.

In her spare time, Herman loves to run and has completed several races including a marathon. Although she is very active and involved in the community she always puts her family first. Her husband, Justin, works for the Ag Division of DowDuPont and they have two children, Kaden and Braylin.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Phillips County Satellite :(970) 580-3614

Lincoln County Business Consultant

Troy McCue

Troy McCue is the Executive Director for Lincoln County Economic Development, and is one of two local SBDC business consultants for Lincoln County. The Lincoln County SBDC office is on the garden level of the Eastern Colorado Bank on Main Street in Limon.

Troy spent 25 years in the Agri-Business industry, trading grain and feed for the local area farmers and ranchers in Lincoln County.  He joined the non-profit world in 2015 as the executive director and small business consultant.  A graduate of Colorado State University in Agriculture Business, Troy brings to his consultancy many years of small business management, accounting, and taxation skills. Troy has also had a long career serving in a civic capacity as mayor of the Town of Arriba, and two terms as a trustee to the town council. He also has been actively involved in economic development since Lincoln County’s organization’s beginning in 2003.

Troy’s wife, Dr. Leesa McCue, is a local veterinarian in Limon, and his daughter, Mercedes, attends Colorado State University in Fort Collins.  His son, Austen, attends Limon Public Schools, and the McCue’s maintain their home in Arriba.


East CO SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

It is against the law for SBDC, as a recipient of federal financial assistance, to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief. SBDC will not discriminate in providing opportunities in any federally funded program or activity or making employment decisions with regards to those programs. If you believe that you have been subject to discrimination please file a complaint with LeRoy Romero, Minority Business Office Manager, at l.romero@state.co.us or 303-892-3840.