Women rise together, empower one another

Southern Ute Chairman Clement J. Frost opens with a motivational speech during the 8th Annual Women’s Small Business Conference held at the Sky Ute Casino Friday, July 14, Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center Director, Liz Ross smiles as Chairman Frost starts the morning off by sharing a joke.
Maggie Sims, a representative from the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, speaks with Donna Thornburg during the conference. Thornburg expresses the struggles she has when using sign language to communicate with a relative; Thornburg uses crutches due to the loss of her leg.
Communications professional Jenifer Doane educates the women on making their media unique to their business. Women filled the Vida Peabody Room at the Sky Ute Casino and Resort, Friday July 14, to learn more about earned media strategies for maximizing business.
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum

Hundreds of women and exhibitors gathered for the 8th Annual Women’s Small Business Conference at the Sky Ute Casino, July 14, to help each other prosper their small businesses. This year marks the second year the conference has been help at the Sky Ute Casino, attributed to the rising number of women striving to excel their businesses to the next level.

The sole purpose of the conference is to give out resources and provide a platform to help women rise together and empower one another. “There is nothing like the women’s vibration, they are like sponges and withhold all this information, so we do this for them,” Small Business Development Center Network Regional Director, Kelly Manning said.

Chairman Clemet J. Frost started the morning with the opening speech, giving an overview on how the Tribe made smart investments to get where we are today. “Oil and gas are our bread and butter and we have used the profits to develop tribal business,” Chairman Frost said. When the gambling law passed in 1991, the Tribe invested in the Sky Ute Lodge and Casino, which opened two years later and has grown to become the Sky Ute Casino Resort. Throughout the years the Tribe has been using the money from investments to develop buildings owned by the tribe.

The conference agenda was broken down into four sessions and each session had four lectures, each individual chose one out of the four lectures to attend. During the varied sessions they covered topics such as; knowing your numbers, solid management plans, how to create a benefits package, barriers to wealth, women entrepreneurs, opportunities to expand your business by selling to the Federal Government. Each of the lectures intended to help further the success of a small business.

A professional photographer was on hand, offering profile photos at a discount price. These headshots were aimed at businesswomen who were in need of an affordable print for marketing themselves. Consultations were offered throughout the day for those interested in taking it a step further.

This year there was approximately 250 women who attended and over 20 exhibitors. The exhibitors all came together with one goal in mind and that is to help women’s small businesses succeed, they ranged from local businesses and banks to state representatives. “We had intensions to move the conference to a different venue but we loved the Sky Ute Casino so much,” said Manning who is in charge of the operational management, strategic planning and financial planning of the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Through her leadership since 2000, the Colorado SBDC successfully increased the assistance of jobs created and retained by 800% and increased capital formation that clients obtained by 275%.

Each year the conference has been rising in numbers, starting out at 100 participants, the program attracted 250 this year. The SBDC’s hope is for the conference to keep flourishing, they are striving to give women a platform to come together and network for a prosperous. Southwest Colorado SBDC Director, Liz Ross is teaming up with Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to hold the 1st annual Indian Biz Expo at the Sky Ute Casino September 14, 2017.

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