Pagosa Verde

Pagosa Verde is the only Public/Private partnership in the State of Colorado for geothermal development. It involves Pagosa Verde, a privately owned business, the United States Department of Energy, the Colorado Energy Office, the Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County.

This unique collaboration also combines technical assistance and funding from the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center and Region 9 Economic Development District of SW Colorado coming together to assist in the development of a significant natural resource in rural Colorado.

According to Jerry Smith, the Founder of Pagosa Verde, “the economic problems in rural areas like western Colorado are because the economy is based on commodity pricing. Everything is based on the weather – either for tourism or agriculture. The result is that Colorado land owners and the small businesses and communities experience periodic dips in income due to the price of oil, cattle or droughts.”

Jerry was tired of seeing people here be “land rich and cash poor.” He decided the best way to solve the problem is to use renewable energy to provide stable year-around income streams. Archuleta County has lots of geothermal heat, but nobody has explored how to use it – until Jerry Smith and his wife Sally High began their project.

Jerry started the business in 2009 and was a “one man show” until 2011. Region 9 then provided working capital for the project and purchased equity in the company in 2012. In 2014, SBDC Advisor, Tom Holcomb brought 25 years of expertise in management and business development in renewable energy and sustainability services. Tom assisted in the feasibility framework for the project.

There are hundreds of places in Colorado where hot water comes out of the ground. By combining the hot water with solar energy, Pagosa Verde’s team, has developed a system to provide affordable, renewable energy for sustainable agricultural projects that stimulate economic development.

Jerry has figured out a way to use the Earth’s heat to grow produce in greenhouses year around. By harnessing the Earth’s renewable energy to generate affordable heat, farmers can produce papayas or tomatoes that can be priced affordably. He has calculated that, “70% of the overhead cost of doing business is heat. If we can reduce that, we can generate income for land owners, create jobs and provide incentives for manufacturers to move into the area.”

According to Jerry, “a greenhouse employs eight full-time people per acre. By leveraging renewable assets, we’re providing a year around income stream for farmers out in the middle of no-where.”

New technologies are making geothermal possible. “The city of Pagosa, Archuleta County and Region 9 are bold and forward thinking. They are combining resources and skill sets to do something that’s important”, Jerry explains.

Enterprise Bar & Grill

Have you heard the story about the entrepreneur who bought a business because she was looking for a job?  Seriously.  She bought a bar and grill in Rico, CO, with no previous business experience.  A year and a half into it she sought assistance from the Small Business Development Center.  This woman took a class designed for entrepreneurs, implemented the suggested practices, became business savvy, and now has a goal to buy the property her bar and grill operates

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Smitty’s Liquors

When Barb Higgins, her son Shiloh and his business partner Doug Jorgensen wanted to buy Smitty’s Liquors in Cortez, the first thing she did was call Joe Keck, who she had known for years. She knew the owners of Smitty’s and they were ready to retire. Her son and his partner had run a successful skateboard and clothing store in Las Vegas, but wanted to come back to Colorado. Higgins and her husband decided to

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Ski and Bow Rack

Larry Fisher greeted every customer as if they were long-lost relatives. For thirty-three years he welcomed people in the Ski and Bow Rack—until late one night, Larry confronted an intruder, who shot and killed him in his shop. His daughter, Brittany Bedtke, who worked for Pagosa’s Emergency Medical Services, knew it was her father the moment the call came in. The loss of her father hit her like a train. But on top of that,

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Given’ Home Health

By Malia Durbano Sandra Shepherd didn’t set out to own a Home Health agency. But “now I feel like it is where I’ve been headed all my life,” she shared. She and her husband owned a construction company when he got cancer. This was her first experience at home health. She graduated from nursing school and was working in a Rehab Unit, when her teen-age son had a stroke. Driving him to appointments in Albuquerque

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The Wine Merchant

By Malia Durbano Eric Allen and Lesley Ponce needed some expert advice as situations in their business changed. They were moving from their location next door to Nature’s Oasis to their current location, next to the VFW at 1514 Main Avenue in Durango. Ponce who had been employed by The Wine Merchant for 10 years, would become a partner after the move. Allen explains, “I had some questions about how to structure a lease. I

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Nifty Nanny

Vivienne Yeagy always envisions bigger. Vivienne was home schooled by her mother Susan, along with her four sisters. Her childhood dream has been to have her very own school, incorporating year round education and child care. This stemmed from her early education in a one room school house with a red door in the family’s yard. Susan worked hard while she incorporated multifaceted ways for the children to learn. Instead of rote memorization and writing until

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