June 7 – 10, 2021

2021 Small Business Week in the Pikes Peak Region

2021 Small Business Week for the Pikes Peak Region was June 7 – 10th! We kicked off our annual event with with EPIC workshops and events designed to educate, celebrate, and champion local small businesses. We ended the week with the Beards, Brews and Bonnets Festival celebrating the sesquicentennial of Colorado Springs! 

Co-hosted by Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado (BBB) Pikes Peak Region Small Business Week is the largest Small Business Week celebration in the State of Colorado (and the U.S.A. in 2020).

With many new challenges that have appeared in the last year for small businesses, having a powerful Marketing message and strategy is more important than ever. In an ever-changing business environment, that has gone almost completely digital, it is more important than ever that businesses get their Marketing message right. These are turbulent times for businesses and the marketing messages seem to be changing weekly.

This session will discuss a diversity of ideas and visions about how to reach customers in 2021 and beyond, pivot quickly and have a strategic vision for the future. There is a common theme of business and the community working toward building a better future together and our prediction for Marketing in 2021 will be that it will continue to build upon this powerful theme.

Join us as we have a discussion from leaders in the marketing world as they hit the reset button on your marketing trends and expectations for 2021 and beyond.

Key Note:

Todd Baldwin
President & Founder, Red Leg Brewing Company

Bio coming soon!


Meridith Jones, Moderator
Marketing Communications Strategy Lead, Kaiser Permanente

Meredith Jones, MS, serves as Kaiser Permanente’s marketing communications strategy lead in Colorado. She has been with the organization for seven years and in her role she provides strategic direction for Kaiser Permanente’s brand, marketing, advertising, sponsorship, and events to grow membership and support the mission of improving the health of members and communities that the state’s largest nonprofit health plan Kaiser Permanente serves.

Jones currently serves on the Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation Grants Committee and served on the CASA of Pikes Peak Region Board of Directors. She is a Leadership Pikes Peak alumnus and was honored as a Colorado Springs Business Journal Rising Star. Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente in 2013, she managed national public awareness programs with professional sports organizations, including Major League Baseball, for eight years.

She received her Master of Science from Roosevelt University, a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Marketing from University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, and participated in a magical internship with Walt Disney World.

Jones resides in Colorado Springs where you can find her on the trails running, mountain biking, and hiking with her husband and two boys.

Michael Myers
CEO & Founding Distiller, Distillery 291

291 Colorado Whiskey founder, Michael Myers is a former New York City fashion and beauty photographer. On September 11, 2011 — ten years after 9/11 changed his life and the lives of so many others — Myers pulled his first whiskey off a copper potstill in his 300sq.ft distillery. He set out to create a one of a kind, big, bold and beautiful, Colorado Whiskey. 10 years later, 291 Colorado Whiskey is Colorado’s most highly awarded whiskey, Distillery 291 is Colorado Springs oldest operating distillery and recently expanded into 13,000 sq.ft. Myers, 291 Colorado Whiskey has been awarded World’s Best Wheat-2021, World’s Best Rye-2018, Best American New Make-2020 & 2021, Best American Rye-2018, 11x Liquid Gold in the Whisky Bible and 2-time US Micro-Whiskey of the Year Runner-up – 2020, 2018. 291 Colorado Whiskey can be found in bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout Colorado and almost 20 other states as well as upcoming distribution in Canada, the United Kingdom, throughout the European Union and is the whiskey sponsor for the new Downtown Stadium.

Nick Ragain
President, Switchbacks FC

Nick Ragain grew up near Idaho Springs, Colorado, home to the most iconic high school football field in Colorado, Gold Digger Stadium. Mr. Ragain’s life has had much to do with sports and sports venues.

After working part time for ME Engineers and Trautman & Shreve on projects like Empower Field through college, Ragain started a sales and project management role with Musco Sports Lighting where he managed the Colorado and Wyoming markets. While working for Musco, Ragain managed over 100 sports and stadium projects projects worth many millions of dollars.

While working and raising a young family, Ragain ran for office and served as an elected official for the Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District as vice president for 6 years helping revitalize facilities in the District and passing a $14M bond to expand its recreation center.

Interest in new web based business opportunities encouraged Ragain to purchase an internet marketing franchise in 2010. The franchise provided a range of digital marketing services to 40 different businesses along the front range including Arby’s, Big O Tires, and Colorado Public HR Association.

In 2013, Martin Ragain (Nick’s father), was recommended to the United Soccer League as an owner candidate of a Championship League franchise in Colorado and came to Nick to explore the opportunity as president and minority owner.

Since 2014, Nick Ragain has been working to grow a franchise, a league, and a sport in Colorado Springs. The venue has been the most critical element for potential growth. In April of 2021, the Ragain family and new business partner, Dean Weidner, opened a $42M stadium in downtown Colorado Springs forever changing downtown Colorado Springs.

Patrice Ravenscroft
Asssociate Publisher, Southeast Express

Patrice Ravenscroft is former collegiate athlete turned nonprofit and community professional enthusiast passionate about healthy and thriving communities, social justice, performance arts and storytelling and high level fundraising and philanthropic giving.

As an executive professional Patrice has created over $900,000 in the hospitality sales worlds; co-orchestrate and direct event gathers with over 3,000 attendees and co-create fund development impact dollars just under $500,000 through corporate, individual, private sector, government, city and grassroots fundraising strategy approaches. She is deeply passionate about assisting organizations to thrive and build capacity through high level fund development philanthropic giving to increase the mission impact and being a part of her community.

Lauren McKenzie
CEO + Founder at REN Creativ

Lauren McKenzie, owner of REN Creativ, has a passion for collaborating with independent businesses to share their stories through a strategic mashup of brand & web design, photography, and digital media. She has developed comprehensive brands for hundreds of businesses not only in Colorado Springs, but across the country. Lauren loves Colorado Springs as if it were her own hometown, and is proud to work alongside many other successful creatives in the Colorado Springs community. Lauren serves on the Board of Directors for the local American Advertising Federation chapter, as well as the local AIGA chapter. She is an active member of the Downtown Partnership, the Professional Photographers Guild of Colorado Springs, AIGA, AAF, and the Pikes Peak Arts Council.

Workshop Sponsor:

Supporting Sponsor:

For business, 2021 will be a year of reinvention. Major economic shifts have changed how we work, changed our communities and pushed business in new directions. As we continue to adapt to a COVID shaped world, this will change and reshape the economy and how business is conducted. Join us as we hear from small businesses that evolved their businesses models based on necessity or saw an opportunity in their industry. These small businesses will talk about how they evolved their teams, thinking and how they plan to respond to new threats, and create a more sustainable future.

Key Note:

Nina Lee
Owner, 503W

As a Colorado native and daughter of a restaurant owner, Nina Lee Oritiz grew up in the restaurant industry and has been part of the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. Today she is the co-founder and operator of 503W with her husband and they will soon be launching their second restaurant called Dun Sun later this summer.

Nina knew from an early age that her passion for art, food and business would lead to many successful ventures and opportunities. Upon graduating from Colorado State University with a BA in graphic design and minor in business administration, she decided to move to Oahu, HI with her boyfriend, who is now her husband and co-owner of 503W. Living in Hawaii was a great cultural experience for them both and an exciting introduction to the world of fusion food.

Oahu is a foodie paradise and is world renowned for its melting pot of diverse flavors in Pacific, Asian and Hawaiian cuisine. Nina loved Hawaii’s vibrant food scene that was reflective of the fun, colorful, and flavorful culinary movement from plate lunches to farm to table. She combined her love of food, art and graphic design and worked as a business consultant at KUPU and Orange Rock as a Jr Art director.

Nina realized in her years spent working as graphic designer has helped both nonprofit organizations and corporate businesses expand their reach to more customers and donors with a solid business strategy in operations and marketing. After a few years in Hawaii, Nina moved back to her hometown of Colorado Springs and opened 503W which combines diverse Asain cuisines like Korean, Thai and Vietnamese with locally grown ingredients from Colorado.

503W savory Asian fusion dishes and curated menu quickly became a recipe for success. Since opening the restaurant, Nina continues to give back to her community by serving on the board of the Pikes Peak Colorado Restaurant Association and is a CSBJ Rising Stars recipient and earned numerous industry accolades throughout her career. Nina says that being a restaurant owner is hard work, but it’s rewarding when you see people enjoy eating your food, the ambiance and great customer service.


MacKenzie Tamayo, Moderator
CEO, MAC Consulting Corp &
COVID-19 Program Manager, Pikes Peak SBDC

Mackenzie has over fifteen years in the hospitality industry, most notably as the Sales Director of The Pinery at the Hill and Business and Marketing Regional Director for Altitude Hospitality Group. Mackenzie has assisted in opening and/or strategizing with a handful of local hospitality businesses including Sprig Eats, Till Kitchen, GOG Market and Café, The Pinery at the Hill, GOG Catering, Kinship Landing, Hearth House Venue and many more. With ties to various nonprofits in the area including Dream Centers, Mary’s Home, Converge Lecture Series and the like, Mackenzie is well versed on both the for-profit and nonprofit experience. Mackenzie has planned and executed over 1,000 events in the Colorado Springs and metro areas as well as received the Visit COS Community Builder Award and CSBJ Rising Star Award. She also assists in running the ‘my_cosprings’ flagship Instagram/social page which provides a guide to the best of Colorado Springs for locals and travelers alike.
Mackenzie recently joined the SBDC to assist with local businesses who desire to gain consulting, up-to-date knowledge on COVID-19 resources and ultimately curate the strength and bandwidth to ensure their business is successful.

Becca Sickbert
Economic Recovery Director/Executive Director, Manitou Springs Creative District

Becca Sickbert began teaching community computer skills in 2001 in Kansas City, MO as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. A digital marketing and communications professional with over 20 years experience, she firmly believes that technology should serve people, and not the other way around. Her professional interests connect at the colorful crossroads of multimedia storytelling, business, technology, art, and community building. In 2020, Becca took on a dual role as Economic Recovery Director for the Manitou Springs community in addition to leading the Manitou Springs Creative District with projects like ManitouMade.com.

Ellen Kleinmaus, MPH, CHES
Regional Director, Primary Care and Pediatrics, Kaiser Permanente

Ellen Kleinmaus, MPH serves as Regional Director of Southern Colorado Primary Care and Pediatrics with Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. In her role, she oversees the daily clinical operations of five medical offices in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, providing strategic leadership to expand the organization’s cost effective, high quality care services.

Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente in 2018, she was the Population Health Manager with Group Health Cooperative of South-Central Wisconsin. She successfully led the organization’s efforts to earn Level III Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition, an evidence-based program that awards high-performing primary care practices.

Ellen received her BS in Community Health Education from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and an MPH from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014.

Ellen resides in Colorado Springs and enjoys running, spending time with her husband and exploring the mountains and other parts of the U.S.


Crystal LaTier
Executive Director, Economic Development for El Paso County & the El Paso County Housing Authority

Crystal LaTier is a currently the Executive Director of Economic Development for El Paso County, as well as the Executive Director to the El Paso County Housing Authority. She has been with El Paso County since 2010. Crystal leads an office that is uniquely tasked with serving an ever-growing region with ever-changing needs. Through the implementation of 13 programs, the Economic Development Office navigates a dynamic economic landscape with a focused approach, by offering diverse incentives for businesses and leveraging federal and state resources for housing and community development. Our goal is to assist in creating a robust, diversified, and equitable economic ecosystem. Crystal holds a degree from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and has been part of the El Paso County community since childhood, where she now raises her young family. She is committed to quality economic, housing and community development for the region. Crystal currently serves as a board member for several organization including: the National Association for County Community and Economic Development; Visit Colorado Springs; the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care; Economic Development Advisory Committee for the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, as well as serves on several other regional and internal El Paso County committees.

Doug Price
President & CEO, Visit Colorado Springs

Doug is the leader of Visit Colorado Springs (VCOS), the official travel and tourism Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, encompassing El Paso, Teller and Fremont counties. Doug and his team are responsible for promoting the city and region to leisure travelers as well as meeting and event planners through advertising, online marketing, PR, social media, direct sales and trade shows. In 2020, he was honored with the prestigious Colorado Tourism Office Board Chairman’s Award that recognizes an individual’s extraordinary commitment to tourism in Colorado.

He has more than 35 years of leadership experience in sales and professional development. Doug is a recognized public speaker and the author of three books — License to Sell, a book on “high touch” selling in a “high tech” environment; License to Serve, a how-to guide for creating exceptional customer service, and Change It!, a book on helping people change themselves and others.

Since its inception, Doug has served as co-chair of the team that developed and implemented the “Olympic City USA” brand for the City of Colorado Springs. He is an original member of the City for Champions project and a graduate of Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, Leadership Pikes Peak, US Air War College National Security Forum and US Chamber Institute of Organization Management (IOM). Doug currently serves on Boards of Directors of Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, Colorado Springs Sports Corp, Downtown Partnership and the Pikes Peak Lodging Association. He also serves the Tourism Industry Association of Colorado, Colorado Association of Destination Marketing Organizations and Colorado Springs Regional Leadership Forum. He earned his BS degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University.

How much is your company worth? One of the main goals for business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate executives is to create value. As a small business owner, your focus is on creating value for your primary stakeholders, you create value by optimizing your organization’s capacity to work more efficiently or leverage new technology. This panel will consist of 5 experts from US Bank that will discuss how to optimize the value of your businesses in these unprecedented times. Optimizing your business requires three key components. First, a clear strategy to position your organization for success. Then, an effective way to implement that plan that helps businesses save money and operate more efficiently. Finally, the panel will talk about estate planning considerations upon the eventual transfer of ownership. Please join us to learn about strategies that can help you potentially increase the value of your business!


Natasha Hutson, Moderator
Business Banking Specialist, U.S. Bank

Bio coming soon!

Ben Gagnon
Treasury Management Consultant, U.S. Bank

Ben is the Treasury Management Consultant for Southern Colorado and Summit County. He is responsible for developing and managing relationships with government and business clients, with emphasis on U.S. Bank’s treasury management products and services.

Ben has been a resident of Colorado Springs for 25 years. He completed his bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing from UCCS.

Ben has been in various banking roles at both Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank for the last 12 years

Joe Hemmel
Vice President, Business Development Officer, U.S. Bank SBA Division

I have been with US Bank for 10 years, 2.5 years in Colorado Springs as the SBA Business Development Officer for the SBA Division. Prior to moving to Colorado Springs, I was a Relationship Manager with the Emerging Business Group in the Kansas City Metro area.

As an SBA Business Develop Officer for US Bank, it is my responsibility to establish relationships with Business Brokers, Commercial Real Estate Brokers, CPA’s and Attorney’s to develop SBA business for US Bank.

I have 25 years of experience in Commercial Banking. Throughout my banking career I have worked with customers to purchase commercial real estate, business acquisitions through the SBA, I have provided working capital lines of credit, equipment financing and fixed asset financing.

Brenda Lammers
Community Wealth Management Trust Managing Director, U.S. Bank

Bio coming soon!

Tom Smith
Senior Vice President, Managing Director, U.S. Bank

As part of U.S. Bank’s Business Owner Advisory Services group, Tom works with founder and family-owned businesses by providing independent, objective advice on how to achieve the owner’s goals and objectives through strategic initiatives. These include acquisitions, partner buy-outs, ownership consolidations, generational transitions, and preparing for and advising on a sale of the business.
Prior to joining the U.S. Bank Business Owner Advisory Services group, Tom served as a chief strategy officer leading corporate development and investor relations. In his prior roles, Tom developed and led expansion initiatives across multiple industries, products, services and technologies in both domestic and global markets.

Sponsored by:

Supporting Sponsor:

As we rebuild the economy, we must consider this—rather than trying to rebuild an outdated economic system, we must build a better one by addressing the underlying structural flaws that have been exposed and exacerbated by the events of 2020.

Many of the social, environmental, and economic challenges we face today are downstream consequences of outdated economic systems and organizational models whose roots date back to the industrial age. The scale, urgency, and complexity of these challenges demand a fundamental upgrade to business-as-usual. The growing sector of for-benefit enterprises, also known as Social Impact Businesses, offers an opportunity to solve many of these social and environmental challenges, while advancing inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Combining attributes of traditional for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations, Social Impact Businesses are hybrid business structures whose higher purpose is delivering social and environmental benefit while making a profit. This innovation is evolving capitalism and traditional business models alike, all while broadening the current business definition of success. We need to unleash the power of purpose-driven organizations to build a better economy. By strengthening the supportive ecosystem for this 4th sector, we can rise to the challenge that the COVID-19 crisis has created to build a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable world. This is a transformative journey, transitioning from what has been a Shareholder supremacy paradigm to one that is inclusive of all Stakeholders and is intentional and strategic in serving communities while creating jobs. This journey requires new ideas, new voices, and massive collaboration at every level.

Key Note:

Jonathan Liebert
CEO & Cofounder, National Institute for Social Impact CEO & Executive Director, Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado

CEO and Cofounder of the National Institute for Social Impact (NI4SI) and CEO/Executive Director of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado, Jonathan is a Social Entrepreneur and a Colorado Springs native. He is a recognized Leader by the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute (CSLI, class of 2017), a Rising Star Award recipient from the Colorado Springs Business Journal and a 2022 CiviCO Governors Fellow. Jonathan is a champion for Social Impact, small businesses, and Trust in the marketplace.

Jonathan is the Chair and Chief Architect of the new, international BBB Trustmark Program, titled BBB4Good. This new program verifies Higher-Purpose businesses and will be the first new Trustmark from BBB in more than 20 years.

Jonathan is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Business at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. In partnership with UCCS, he has created the curriculum for the first course for Social Entrepreneurship in the School of Business. Jonathan is currently expanding the National Institute for Social Impact outside Colorado. This organization is key to Accelerating the evolution of Business by providing tools and training designed to enhance and organize the emerging Fourth Sector of the economy and leveraging entrepreneurial strategies that solve social and environmental issues across the globe.

Jonathan currently serves on the National Board for the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, Business Advisory Committee for the Colorado Secretary of State, the Colorado Nonprofit Association, and several other key community boards. Jonathan has a Masters in Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education from the University of Colorado Health and Sciences Center.


Stacey Burns, Moderator
COO, National Institute for Social Impact

Stacey Burns is thrilled to be a native of Colorado, living in various regions of the state all of her life, but has spent a majority of her career in Colorado Springs. She has been a strong advocate for Social Impact Businesses, veterans’ transition programs, as well as healing through the arts. She started the Spotlight on Hope event to increase behavioral health awareness and was one of the creators of the Military Creative Expressions program in conjunction with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Stacey’s absolute favorite part of any opportunity is to develop mutually beneficial partnerships and to help people find their potential.
Stacey is currently the Vice President of Business Innovation at Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado and the Colorado Institute for Social Impact (CI4SI). The Colorado Institute for Social Impact seeks to educate organizations on the power of the emerging Fourth Sector of the economy using entrepreneurial strategies to solve social issues in our community. Stacey is working to increase the understanding and measurement of Social Return on Investment (SROI) through CI4SI, a process she has been developing since 2009. Stacey was chosen in 2015 to become a Beanstalk Foundation Leader, is Chair of the El Paso County Community Services Block Grant Advisory Board, and is on the Board of Directors for Peak Partnership and Homeward Pikes Peak. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English from CU-Boulder and a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education from CU-Denver Health Sciences. Stacey loves reading, movies, and water skiing.

Daniel Byrd
Executive Director, Kids on Bikes

Since 2013, Daniel has served Kids on Bikes and has served as Executive Director since Fall of 2016. He oversaw the growth of Kids on Bikes programmatic impact, the launch of two social enterprise efforts, as well as the unique partnership between Kids on Bikes and Mountain Equipment Recyclers. Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Daniel has developed an enormous passion for the health and well-being of kids as well as a deep passion for how positively impactful a bicycle can be for the development of children at any age.

Lauren Hug J.D., LL.M.
Co-Founder, Culinary Distancing COS
Principal & Founder, HugSpeak Consulting Author of Digital Kindness: Being Human in a Hyper-Connected World

An accomplished speaker, writer, and strategist, Lauren Hug, Founder of HugSpeak Consulting, has helped people reach and motivate audiences for 20 years. For the past decade, she has applied analytical and communication skills to branding, messaging, and market research needs of clients like El Paso County Public Health, Generation Wild of the Pikes Peak Region, Advanced Micro Devices, and Colorado Springs Utilities. Her expertise regarding digital communication, community-building, and dissemination of information is frequently sought out by organizations. Lauren is uniquely situated to facilitate strategic planning, connection, and advocacy for community-centric entities. Her academic credentials include an LL.M. with merit from the University College London, a J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, and a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Texas. She is the author of three books, including her most recent, Digital Kindness: Being Human in a Hyper-Connected World.


James Proby
Founder & CEO, The Men's Xchange

James Proby is a Colorado Springs native with a passion for this community. He has held leadership roles and several capacities with different organizations throughout El Paso County and is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. James has severed on several boards and commissions in the Pikes Peak Region, including DowntownVentures, Board of Directors for The UCCS SchoolofPublicAffairs, founding Committee Member for Community Advancing Public Safety and Student of Dean of minority Affairs at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs among others. He is the Founder and Chief Ethos Officer of a social enterprise called The Men’s Xchange. The Men’s Xchange is a men’s professional clothing boutique that specializes in dressing men in business and dress apparel for $50 or less. For about every 9 men that shop at The Men’s Xchange, The Men’s Xchange can dress one man in our community at no cost.

Lynn Jones
Owner, Colorado Gear Lab LLC

Lynn Jones is the owner and co-founder of Colorado GearLab LLC, an outdoor gear and apparel store located in downtown Woodland Park, CO. Established in February 2018, Colorado GearLab offers both consignment and retail sales of quality outdoor brands for adults and kids. Colorado GearLab was just recognized by the Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce as 2020 Business of the Year. In addition to overseeing all operations for the store, Lynn serves as the Vice Chair of the Woodland Park Main Street Board of Directors and also chairs the Promotions Committee.
Lynn and her husband George moved to Woodland Park in 2017. They’ve been married 34 years and have three adult kids and one son-in-law. The family loves to get together to ski and hike, and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival has become a favorite annual family event.

Workshop Sponsors

Supporting Sponsor

Minority-owned businesses play a vital role in economic growth and community impact. With more than 1 million minority owned business in the United States, this created 51 million jobs with an annual payroll of $2.6 trillion. In Colorado, we have just over 72,000 minority-owned businesses, which created nearly $9M in payroll for employees. Across the United States, we are seeing these businesses grow and provide tremendous value to the communities in which they operate. In 2020, minority-owned businesses saw a disproportionate impact during the pandemic with 78% concerned about closing versus 57% for non-minority small business. In addition, minority owned businesses were more likely to try to secure a grant or loan – but failed in doing so.

Learn more in this session about the impact of local, state and federal programs that provide support, mentorship, access to grants and loans to assist our EPIC Minority-Owned small businesses as they put our community back to work and recover from the pandemic.


Aikta Marcoulier
Executive Director, Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center

Aikta Marcoulier joined the SBDC team as the director of the Pikes Peak center in May 2012. Prior to the SBDC, she was the director of partnership marketing with the Professional Bull Riders (PBR).

Aikta is involved in the El Pomar Emerging Leaders Program. She is an active Executive board member of the Pikes Peak Workforce Development Board and Executive Board Member of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado. She is on the Pikes Peak Community College Business Advisory Board and the President of the Colorado Business Development Foundation.. She serves on numerous committees for the Colorado Springs Business Journal, served as Co-Chair for the Census 2020 Business Committee is on the Technology and Funding Committees for the Colorado SBDC Network. Additionally she is a member of the Employer Advisory Committee for the UCCS College of Business Career Development Center and ROAR (Relationships, Opportunities, Acumen, and Readiness Committee).

Past memberships include board membership to the Colorado Institute for Social Impact, Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Women to Women Mentoring and the Executive Leadership Committee for the Leukemia Lymphoma Man/Women of the Year Gala.

Marcoulier received her MBA in global management from the University of Phoenix and undergraduate degrees in both economics and psychology from the University of Iowa. She was awarded the University of Iowa Leadership Award in 2011 and was named one of the Colorado Springs Business Journal’s Rising Stars for 2013 and Women of Influence. Additionally, Aikta earned the Colorado State Star Award in 2013 and lead the Colorado Springs SBDC to earn the UCCS Deans Award, El Paso County Recognition Award, SBA Region VIII Award for Innovation and Excellence (2014 & 2020) and the Pikes Peak Arts Council Arts Advocacy Award. She is a 2018 Colorado Springs Leadership Institute (CSLI) Alum and 2017 Leadership Pikes Peak (LPP) Signature Program Alum (Best classes ever!)


Frances Padilla
Colorado District Director, Small Business Administration

Frances A. Padilla was named the district director for the Colorado District Office in January 2017. As Director, she is the Chief Executive Officer responsible for directing the expansion and delivery of SBA’s various loan and business training services throughout the State of Colorado.
Prior to her current position, as the deputy district director she led the Entrepreneurial Development and Lender Relations divisions in the Colorado office. As the District’s Chief Operating Officer, she managed the agency’s relationships and collaborations with financial institutions, resource partners, local government officials, and economic development organizations.
Before coming to Colorado, Ms. Padilla served as the deputy district director and chief of finance in the New Mexico District Office providing direction, management, oversight, and deployment of the SBA Capital Access programs to internal and external stakeholders. In addition to her responsibilities at the district office level, Ms. Padilla also served as a regional lender relations trainer and has participated on several field advisory committees at SBA headquarters.
During her SBA career, Padilla has served as the statewide point of contact for commercial and community-based lending institutions providing lender training and technical assistance. She has also served as the District International Trade Officer, Public Information Officer, and Women’s Business Ownership Liaison.
Before joining the SBA team in 2007, Padilla worked for USDA Rural Development, the State of New Mexico’s Department of Finance & Administration, and the New Mexico Finance Authority. Her career includes over 23 years of experience in public finance, guaranteed lending, governmental relations, project management, strategic planning, and community development. A native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ms. Padilla earned her Bachelor of Arts in business management from the College of Santa Fe.
The Colorado District Office serves the entire state, a vast geographic territory of more than 104,100 square miles which includes 64 counties. Frances Padilla can be reached at frances.padilla@sba.gov or .

Wendy Lea
CEO, Energize Colorado

Wendy Lea is a leading expert in digital innovation strategy and ecosystem development. As an experienced CEO, board director, and strategist, she advises government, public-private partnerships, and global enterprises on growth through innovation.

Recognized for work across industries and regions, Wendy is a maximalist who is equally well-versed in helping large enterprises systematize innovation as she is in creating vibrant startup innovation ecosystems that grow city, regional, and state economies. An active mentor and advisor for tech accelerators, Wendy leverages a global network of entrepreneurs to catalyze economic resilience.

As CEO of Energize Colorado, Wendy mobilizes resources and relief for small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals recovering from the economic impact of COVID-19. She leads a team of inspired innovators from Colorado’s private, public, nonprofit, and academic communities to revive and invigorate Colorado’s economy.

Wendy also serves on the Danaher Water Innovation and Technology Board, the P&G Ventures Advisory Board, and select venture-backed startup boards. Wendy provides corporate innovation subject matter expertise to Techstars’s ecosystem development partnership with the Country of Taiwan. She also serves university innovation and entrepreneurship programs, including Miami University’s John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Engineering and Applied Science Advisory Board.

Wendy was named a “Woman of Influence” in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Recently she was honored with the Signal Excellence Award in 2018 by Procter & Gamble and the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business Distinguished Service Award.

Wendy is a graduate of the University of Mississippi in Business Administration and has lived and worked around the world. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Antonio Soto
Program Manager, Minority Business Office of Colorado - Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT)

Bio coming soon!

Cory Arcarese
Community Lending Advisor, Colorado Enterprise Fund

Cory is the Southern Colorado Lending Officer for Colorado Enterprise Fund and a Senior Business Consultant with the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center focused on Southeast COS. Immediately prior to working at CEF, she was the owner of CArc Business Consulting LLC– a business consulting agency specializing in financial analysis, lending processing, healthcare business strategy, small business strategy and startups. In 2020, Cory was named a Woman of Influence in Colorado Springs by the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Having worked with over 1,000 businesses Cory is experienced in helping business grow. She has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a Master’s degree in Accounting. Cory is bilingual – fluent in English and Spanish.

Natasha Main
Executive Director
Exponential Impact

Natasha is a nonprofit professional serving as the Executive Director of Exponential Impact whose mission is to drive economic development in Southern Colorado by supporting high-growth entrepreneurs. By combining community building and economic development approaches, she works to connect founders to existing resources and solve gaps in the ecosystem.


Kayla Huthoefer Nelson
Economic Development Project Manager
El Paso County Economic Development

As the Economic Development Project Manager for the El Paso County, Colorado Economic Development Department, Kayla Huthoefer Nelson uses innovative and research-driven strategies to develop equitable economic development and small business advancement policies and programs. In 2020, she led the execution of COVID-19 relief programs that supported the recovery and resiliency of over 1,000 small businesses and nonprofits located within El Paso County – with one program alone providing over $13.8M in grant funding to 864 small businesses and nonprofits of which 56% self-identified as minority-, women-, and/or veteran-owned entities. The 2020 COVID-19 relief programs supported over $1.6B dollars of economic output, $18.3M of local sales tax revenue, and over 24,755 jobs in the Pikes Peak region. She continues to lead the research of the economic pulse of the region through quarterly surveys and other forms of data collection to provide a foundational perspective for local and state leaders – public and private – to develop effective policies and programs that reflect effective solutions to needs indicated by small businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs for their recovery and resiliency out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On a national level, Kayla works collaboratively with counties across the United States to share ideas and education on innovative, effective, and equitable economic development strategies as the Vice Chair of the National Association of County Community and Economic Development’s – Economic Development Committee. She is a Fellow of the Colorado Springs Mayor’s Civic Leaders Fellowship, serves on community economic development committees, regional recovery committees, small business advancement groups, and sits as an Advisor to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s College of Business on their Inclusive Excellence Board of Advisors ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusivity are highlighted in university policies and program development.

People are the heartbeat of economies – and people are her greatest passion.

Workshop Sponsors

Join our thriving business community on Thursday, June 10th for the VIRTUAL Small Business Week Celebration and Awards Banquet, where the winners in the following five categories will be announced:

  • Small Business Person of the Year
  • Small Business Champion of the Year
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Family-Owned Business of the Year
  • Veteran Small Business Owner of the Year

Awards finalists listed below in alphabetical order. 


Young Entrepreneur of the Year​

Honors an entrepreneur 35 years of age or younger with at least a one-year track record demonstrating innovativeness, commitment to the community and potential for long-term business success


  • Ian Horgan, Wayfarer Vans
  • Lauren McKenzie, REN Creativ
  • Kristen Sharpe, Kristen Faith LLC
Family-Owned Business of the Year

Honors a family-owned and operated business with multiple generationsrepresented with at least a ten-year track record demonstrating commitment to the community and other
family-owned businesses, prioritizing family and having potential for long-term business success


  • Andrew Graff, Luisa Graff Jewelers
  • Jenn Raulie, Bill’s Plumbing and Drain Service
  • Christopher Reid, Blue Ridge Contractors Inc.
Veteran Small Business Owner of the Year​

Honors a U.S. Armed Forces veteran who has owned and operated a business with at least a two-year track record demonstrating commitment to the community and other veteran-owned businesses, incorporating their experience as a veteran into their business model and having potential for long-term business success


  • Richard Fierro, Atrevida Beer Co.
  • Dylan Newman, Dart Wars
  • Charles Weber, Family Care Center
Small Business Champion of the Year

Honors an individual who has fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of small business opportunities, dedicating time and effort to advocating for, promoting and serving small businesses


  • Mark  Bittle, ConnectionMark
  • Jessica Fierro, Atrevida Beer Company
  • Beth Taylor, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC




Small Business Person of the Year​

Honors a business owner/operator (or team) with at least a three-year track record who meets multiple criteria defining a successful entrepreneur – criteria includes demonstrating exceptional increase in sales, net profit and net worth; sustained growth in number of employees; staying power; innovativeness in product or service; overcoming adversity; and community contributions.


  • Lisa Blattner, Blattner Law Firm, LLC
  • Katey Blehm, Colorado Springs Therapy Center
  • Brandon Kirk, Hydro-Clean Inc.


Date: Saturday, June 12
Time: Noon – 8 p.m.

Admission: Free!

Brews & Whiskey Tasting 10-Punch Card: $22* While Supplies Last

This family-friendly event will offer a smorgasbord of activity for people of all ages! History will mix with modern times at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site(link is external) where guests can enjoy:

  • beverage tastings from 30 local
  • breweries & distilleries
  • live music from a variety of local bands
  • games popular in the late 1800s
  • living history with actors playing historic roles
  • learn about and celebrate the history of Colorado Springs
    compete for the title of Best Beard or Best Bonnet (or both!)
  • and so much more

Covid Protocol for the Beards, Bonnets & Brews+ Festival will follow ALL state guidelines.

Did you miss an event during SBW? Stream it here!


EPIC Marketing


EPIC Evolution


Optimizing the Value of your Business


EPIC Purpose


EPIC Minority Business


Small Business Week Awards Celebration


Presenting Sponsor

Corporate Sponsor

Live Stream Sponsor

Workshop Sponsors

Award Sponsors

Media Sponsors

Small Business Sponsors

Supporting Sponsors

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