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 twenty counties in Colorado – Adams, Arapahoe, Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley, Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Otero, Phillips, Prowers, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, and Yuma. Each of our area consultants are GrowthWheel® certified. 

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

Executive Director

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

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

Associate Director

Mickie Lewis

Associate Director Mickie Lewis is a 30+ year experienced professional in workforce development, promotional marketing, and small business development, and a four-year director with SBDC. She accomplishes this work through direct client services, developing professional teams, professional development education, and small business/workforce education creation and delivery.  Her specializations beyond her core focus are serving special needs clients, entity branding/marketing, non-profit development/management, professional development, and curriculum creation/ development/ authorship. In addition, Mickie is a “train the trainer” in Getting Ahead in a Getting’ Ahead World (Bridges Out of Poverty Curriculum), contributing author for Getting Ahead in the Workplace, Real Colors, Suicide Prevention in the Workplace, and co-author for CIMA Correctional Education curriculums. She also sits on several boards connected to direct client services in Colorado’s workforce/ small business development.

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

Otero County Administrative Specialist

Jaydon Rice

Jaydon Rice is a lifetime Southeast CO native who is passionate about nurturing small businesses throughout rural Colorado. Jaydon has been involved in the entrepreneurial and small business communities of Southeast Colorado for many years, including owning her own small businesses, involvement in Youth Entrepreneurship initiatives and Chambers of Commerce, as well as working with several nonprofit organizations. As a disabled working professional, Jaydon is also a staunch advocate of disabled and disadvantaged individuals’ inclusion in the workplace. Since joining the Colorado SBDC Network in 2019, Jaydon has worked in curriculum development, program development and management, workshop/course facilitation, data and internal processes, and business consulting. Jaydon specializes in consulting focused on business startup and planning, financial forecasting and analysis, tax planning, marketing, strategic planning, strategic partnerships, and nonprofits.

Weld County Consultant

Briana Hale

Briana attended Colorado State University for Equine Sciences with a Business Minor and Texas State University for her MBA. Her primary background is in marketing and the agriculture industry.  While at Texas State University, she traveled abroad to Peru and enjoyed working with local businesses in the Lima area. All her experience has been with small businesses, from helping to market a product in a new country, to getting prepared for event trade shows, and writing email campaigns. Outside of work, she enjoys playing volleyball, riding her horse, skiing, and spending time with her family and friends. As a Texas native, Briana fell in love with Northern Colorado during her time at CSU.


East CO SBDC Office:970-351-4274

Weld County Consultant

John Armstrong

John has enjoyed the opportunity to experience several industries and countries since leaving his home state of Louisiana. He has degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tulsa and Psychology from Louisiana Tech University, which has proven to be equally valuable in the span of his career.


After serving in the Navy, John spent most of his career in the Oil and Gas industry in various engineering and management roles, with eight of those years in South America. In 2003, John embarked on the next great adventure starting his own business and the journey to becoming a “serial” entrepreneur, developing successful service and product organizations.


Today, John is a business consultant for the East Colorado SBDC, an adjunct Professor at Colorado School of Mines, and the CEO of Ignites institute giving back what has been generously given to him. John enjoys most hanging with his son, a Standley Lake High Schooler “Go Gators”, supporting his passion as a self-described “current Jazz musician and Future Marine Biologist,” you can even catch them playing together at an open mic night.


East CO SBDC Office:970-351-4274

Las Animas County Consultant

Amanda Korth

Serving Las Animas County, Amanda has more than 36 years of experience in various areas of management, marketing, sales, and professional and personal development. She has written business plans and marketing plans and created strategic partnerships for businesses in various industries. She left the corporate chains 8+ years ago to pursue entrepreneurial pursuits and is part of four businesses. She is grateful for the structure that corporate climbing provided, including systems and dedication, but it does nothing to nurture the mindset of being an entrepreneur. We are all created equal, and we can be creative and conceive of wealth in our minds. Congratulations on taking the leap of faith to bring your vision to fruition and living the American dream of owning your time and creating capital! She is dedicated to helping business owners create, thrive, attract new clients, create effective marketing, and enjoy the journey.

Hemp Farming Consultant

Bethleen McCall

Bethleen McCall is the President of the Colorado Hemp Association. She is a fifth-
generation ag producer from Yuma County. Her farm, Hemp Farm Colorado was on the ground
floor of Colorado’s hemp industry and is one of the original hundred registered and legal industrial
hemp producers in the nation, growing since 2014. They specialize in year-round greenhouse
production of high CBD feminized seed and trimmed flower. The farm also has experience
growing hemp under center pivot for biomass as well as grain and fiber. She provides advice
on the emerging hemp industry for agencies and existing businesses. Prior to farming full time,
she worked in government and natural resource management. She also enjoys serving her community on various boards including Yuma City Council, Yuma County Economic Development Corporation. Yuma County Water Authority and the Colorado Agriculture Preservation Association.


Cell Phone:970-630-5666

Baca & Prowers Consultant

Cheryl Sanchez

Cheryl is the Economic Development director for Prowers Economic Prosperity, and Baca County, and she brings decades of community college and SBDC experience with her, as well as an intimate understanding of the southeastern plains.

Elbert County 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

Las Animas County Consultant

Gillian Cheek

Gillian first got her entrepreneurial mindset when she was a child selling Girl Scout Cookies. Since then, she has built several of her own successful businesses from the ground up, as well as helped mentor many other businesses. Her background is mainly in the restaurant, bar, and hospitality field. She is most known for her accomplishments as a Sculpted Cake Artist, that led her to receive International Recognition and a television appearance. Her most recent business venture is an Event Production Company. When not working, Gillian likes to spend time outdoors with her kids and family!

Weld County Consultant- Bilingual

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 Consultant- Bilingual

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 individuals 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


Weld County Consultant

Jonathan Seitz

Jonathan Seitz grew up in Greeley, CO. He attended the University of Northern Colorado graduating with a degree in Business Management. Post-graduation Jonathan purchased a small business and grew it into a multimillion-dollar company with 60 employees.
Jonathan joined the SBDC in 2022 and is excited to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals and ambitions. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.


Cell Phone:(970) 396-8780

Volunteer Consultant

Karen Wainscott

Karen Wainscott is a development professional originally from Richmond, Virginia who has lived in Colorado for almost ten years. She completed her B.A. in Political Science and International Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she also received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Nonprofit Management. Karen has worked for businesses and organizations across all sectors specializing in fund development, marketing, communications, and strategic planning. She is currently the EDA Rural Program Manager with the Colorado Rural Opportunity Office. Karen started Wainscott Consulting in 2020 and serves as the grant-writer for Albany County, Wyoming as well as multiple nonprofit clients. She lives in Greeley, CO with her husband Josh and two stepchildren.

Service Areas:

Nonprofit management


Grant writing

Strategic planning


Cell Phone:(804) 855-4764

Logan County 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

Sustainability Consultant

Leisha Talley

Leisha Talley is originally from the Teton Mountain Region, west of Yellowstone National Park. She also spent numerous years as a wilderness guide in Oregon and Alaska. In Colorado since 2006, she received her Teaching Credentials from Fort Lewis College and her Masters’s Degree from Colorado State University. She has initiated two successful entrepreneurial endeavors, providing educational curriculum consulting for STEM programming in public schools and interactive science museums. As the Sustainable Economic Development Fellow for the Town of Erie, she helped hundreds of entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of licensure and access programming designed to grow their businesses. With an MBA in Corporate Sustainability, her goal is to share information that helps companies realize cost saving through the efficient use of natural resources. She is well-versed in interpreting environmental regulations and policies that affect business owners. Certified in Carbon Management, she is adept at quantifying data to create science-based targets that help organizations align with national emission reduction targets. Driven by innovation, Leisha is current on clean technology, circular supply chains, ecological economics, ESG reporting, life cycle assessment, and creating brand value through corporate social responsibility. As an artist, she is passionate about helping people manifest their dreams of sharing their unique products and services with the world.

Morgan & Washington 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

Baca & Prowers Consultant

Rachel Evans

Rachel joins the East Colorado SBDC to serve South East Colorado, entrepreneurs, and small business owners.  Rachel and her husband owned a ranching business, so she is an excellent source of information on business creation, development, and financial management.  She is a former Army Officer United States Military Academy (USMA) graduate with extensive leadership training and experience, specializing in Communications, Human Resource Management, Administration, Information Operations, Inter, and Intra-agency Coordination, Researching/Writing/ Briefing, Remote Online Meetings/Work Environments

Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Lincoln, & Yuma 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 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

Lincoln County 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.

Skip to content