The First Cohort of CO.STARTERS, a program designed to equip individuals and communities with the ability to thrive through entrepreneurship, culminated on August 6, 2020 by awarding the top three winners of the end of the session “Pitch Contest.”  

The first ever cohort to meet in Grant County met one day per week over a 9 week period in Grant County. The “COVID” Cohort met while observing social distancing guidelines and with strict adherence to COVID Safety Protocols (CSP) by wearing facemasks the entire time each class was in session. The topics discussed over the 9 week period ranged from Entrepreneur Personality Assessments and “Knowing Yourself and Your Customers.”  Building your business model to scale, accounting and planning your business growth for the future were topics included in the structured program.  

The “Pitch Contest” gave each participant the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges in a real-world scenario. “Learning how to pitch your business is important because it is what business owners need to be able to do if they are to find customers or potential investors for their business” said Lee Gruber, Executive Director of SWNMACT and former owner of Syzygy Tile in Silver City.  

The first place winner of the pitch contest was Jed Bootzin. Second Place was Sarah Horton and third place was Melanie Zipin.  Steven Chavira, wearing the traditional COVID uniform of dressy on top and casual on the bottom presented all three awards.

CO.STARTERS was made possible by a partnership between USDA and Freeport McMoRan through the Rural Economic Development Initiative applied for by the SWNM Council of Governments in partnership with SWNMACT and the Silver City Grant County Chamber of Commerce. Twelve facilitators and 10 entrepreneurs were trained in this program.  The 9 week cohort was facilitated by Teresa Dahl-Bredine of Little Toad Creek Brewery and Steven Chavira of the Silver City Grant County Chamber of Commerce. 

CO.STARTERS,, was founded as a nonprofit in Chattanooga, TN in 2008 and has grown to a global, independent, for-profit company today.  From the beginning CO.STARTERS has pioneered a community-based approach to economic development known today as entrepreneurial ecosystem building.  According to their website 93% of CO.STARTERS participants feel confident in how to make a venture work after completion of the cohort and 87% of participants feel connected and supported by their communities.  CO.STARTERS is a highly collaborative and well run program and Grant County will benefit from this program for years to come.

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