Seibel steps up as Small Business Specialist

Trae Seibel Small Business Specialist Southern Ute Strategic Planning
SU Drum archive

The Southern Ute Tribe’s Small Business Development Center welcomed tribal member, Trae Seibel as the Small Business Specialist in November of 2020. His position falls under the economic development program, within the small business center. The center was created to support and encourage tribal member entrepreneurship on and off the reservation. 

Seibel is no stranger to the community, he went to school and graduated from the Ignacio School District in 2010. Then continued his education at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., where he received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He then moved on to Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo., to obtain his master’s degree in Education. He is currently working to receive his Doctorate of Education. 

For the past two years Seibel has worked as a part time physical education teacher for the Community Christian Academy. Seibel has also worked on the Growth Fund Management Committee, and before that he worked alongside the director of the Southern Ute Education Department in an apprenticeship capacity. 

“This position is brand new, not only to me, but as a whole,” Seibel said. “Right now, I am focused on interviewing tribal entrepreneurs and those who want to start a business, as well as those who already operate their own business.” He is gathering information from each interview to find out the needs of tribal members. “What do they need from the Tribe? What do they need to be successful? How can the Tribe support them?” These are all questions that he asks and then reports back to his supervisors and Tribal Council during regular update meetings. 

“I’m currently working on writing a business plan to create the Southern Ute Entrepreneurial Resource Center (SUERC),” Seibel explained. The center will serve tribal members both on and off the reservation and will include a virtual component as well as a physical component, which will be known as the Artisan Center. Virtually entrepreneurs will have access to a guide — sort of a “how to start your business” guide that will help start and direct members to the first steps of business management. The Artisan Center will be used as a space for business owners to use to create and take their business to the next level. 

“We want to be able to provide a shared workspace for tribal members to come and work and gain direction,” Seibel emphasized. “I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship and I’m a people person, so I love being able to talk to these businesses and help them with whatever they may need.”  

The Tribe has economic influence, both on and off the reservation, small businesses can and will help the local economy. There is a lot that goes into building a business and the Tribe’s small business center hopes to help with that process – from start to finish.

“Four years ago, when we completed the comprehensive economic development strategy, we thought there would maybe be five tribal members who would be interested in having a small business – today we have 45 clients who we currently serve through the Southern Ute Entrepreneurial Resource Center,” stated Eric Thayer, Southern Ute Strategic Planning Director. “There is a clear need that we want to fill to help tribal members become successful entrepreneurs.” 

These goals may be realized by utilizing the opportunities offered through the small business center. The center will create a framework to ensure that networks exist between local resources and entrepreneurs. By using regional entities such as: Region 9, the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Fort Lewis, the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED), in addition to the numerous programs offered through local colleges. The small business center can be the perfect connection for local entrepreneur resources, offering everything from startup funding to long term business solutions. 

“Trae’s background and experience in education and business sets him up to be the optimal resource for tribal members seeking to either build their capabilities or enhance the resources available to them and their small businesses,” Thayer said. “Having him as our small business specialists is an integral part of completing our mission.”

Southern Ute tribal members with interests in small business or entrepreneurial questions can now contact Small Business Specialist, Trae Seibel directly via email trseibel@southernute-nsn.gov or by phone at 970-553-0416.

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