Welcome to the East Colorado SBDC

The East Colorado Small Business Development Center offers 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. We provide free guidance and counseling in all aspects of funding and developing small business. We strive to help grow and start businesses. While we cannot eliminate risk, we work to minimize it by helping clients write comprehensive business plans, conduct financial forecasts, strategize marketing tactics, apply for funding, and improve operations. Let us help maximize your business potential.

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.

Email:Lisa.Hudson@EastColoradoSBDC.com

Phone: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).

Email:kyla@eastcoloradosbdc.com

Phone:970-351-4274

Program Coordinator

Andrew Schroeder

Andrew Schroeder joined the East Colorado SBDC as the Program Coordinator in June 2019. He graduated from the Colorado State University College of Business with a B.S. Business Administration with an emphasis in Management. Andrew has experience in sales and marketing for the health and wellness industry and in residential and commercial contracting.

Administrative Specialist

Lynnae Howell

Born and raised in Greeley Colorado, I attended high school at Greeley Central. I started gaining experience in the education environment while interning for UNC. I was working in the customer service field while taking classes at Aims for Financial Management & Business. I gained accounting experience at Weld County School District 6.

In 2017, my husband and I launched a welding business primarily focused on the oil & gas industry in 2017. I am actively working towards getting a degree in business management. If not working on the business, I take care of our three children Leecia, Kason & Emery. We enjoy family fishing trips, boating, and sports!

Email:lynnae@eastcoloradosbdc.com

Phone:970-351-4247

Weld County Business Consultant

Chelsie Beller

Born and raised in Colorado, Chelsie joined the Small Business Development Center in September 2014, as a Business Consultant where she enjoys assisting small business owners in Northern Colorado from start-up plan development through growing and sustaining their businesses. Before joining the SBDC, Chelsie worked in the financial industry as a personal banker which gave her insight of the banking system and how she can work with bankers to help businesses become self-sustaining. Chelsie also learned from the various positions held in the food and retail industries and saw what it takes to make a business successful.

Chelsie graduated in 2013 from the Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Management, and minors in economics, entrepreneurship, and global business. During her education, she participated in several international experiences which included a study abroad program at the Richmond University in London as well an internship at Park 8 Hotel in Sydney, Australia. She also assisted as an International Student Ambassador and competed in the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition.

Email:Chelsie.Beller@EastColoradoSBDC.com

Phone:(970) 351-4274

Adams, Arapahoe, & Elbert Counties 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.

Email:craig.curl@eastcoloradosbdc.com

Phone:(970) 351-4274

Weld County Business Consultant

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.

Email:Jenn.Negley@EastColoradoSBDC.com

Phone:(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.

Email:jesse.esparza@eastcoloradosbdc.com

Office:(970) 351-4274

Cell:(720)-837-0416

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.

Email:laurie.jones@eastcoloradosbdc.com

Phone:(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 8,000-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 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.

Email:merle.rhoades@eastcoloradosbdc.com

Phone:(970) 351-4274

Phil Riggleman

Phil Riggleman was raised in the Midwest on a dairy farm Southeast of Paxton, Illinois.  He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Leadership from Greenville University.  Phil and his wife, Elizabeth (Hilbert) who grew up in Wray, moved back to her hometown in 2005.  Phil was the Executive Director of the Wray Rehabilitation and Activities Center for 3 Years until He moved to Bonanza Ford and became General Manager in 2012.  Phil just recently took on the role as Economic Development Director for Yuma County and has very strong ties to the surrounding communities. He serves on the board for the Wray District Community Hospital and has served on various boards for other non-profits in the community.  Phil is currently working on his Masters of Business Administration degree from Greenville University which he will finish in the summer of 2020.  

Phil, Elizabeth, and their 4 children live on a small farm in between Wray and Yuma where they raise goats and chickens.  He enjoys spending time with his family and absolutely loves to run. His other off-hour hobbies include camping and boating.  His wife Elizabeth is the counselor at Wray High School and they have 4 children ages 15, 13, 12 and 9.   

Email:phil@eastcoloradosbdc.com

Phone:719-688-5612

Lincoln County 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. Raejean is eager to work with her new community.

Email:Raejean.Palko@EastColoradoSBDC.com

East Colorado SBDC Office:(970) 351-4274

Limon Satellite Office:(719) 775-9070

Arapahoe and Adams County 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.

Email:tracy@eastcoloradosbdc.com

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.

Email:trisha.herman@eastcoloradosbdc.com

Phone:(970) 531-4274

Lincoln County Business Consultant

Troy McCue

Troy McCue is the executive director for Lincoln County Economic Development, and is the local SBDC business consultant for Lincoln County. His office is on the garden level of the First National Denver-Limon Branch 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. 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, and son, Austen, both attend the Limon School District.

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.