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Colorado’s west slope is an incredibly special place dotted with small towns and filled with abundant recreational opportunities. For decades it has been known as an oasis for mountain bikers, river rafters, campers, runners, and adventurers of all types, but over the last few years Colorado’s West Slope has started to earn a new reputation, as a growing and thriving business ecosystem. Manufacturing and tech companies have been relocated to Grand Junction and the surrounding communities and more entrepreneurs are making home in the small towns of Western CO. As a part of this movement, West Slope Startup Week was launched in 2019 to help support and foster the development of Colorado’s West Slope startup ecosystem.

The Need: Regional Networking to Support Large-Scale Business Goals

Many of Western Colorado’s towns are simply too small to provide all of the resources, support, and opportunities that businesses need to grow and thrive. The solution was to combine all of the resources across the entire west slope and rally together to form one larger regional startup ecosystem. West Slope Startup Week was developed to help make that dream a reality. During this week-long event entrepreneurs, makers, creatives, and hard-working, inspired people from all across Western Colorado come together to exchange knowledge and connect. Regional business support organizations share their resources as sponsors and workshop leaders and help bring together the community in a way previously explored.

How Has the West Slope Startup Ecosystem Evolved?

Over the last few years the changes in the Western Colorado startup ecosystem have been enormous. Coworking spaces, like Proximity Space, have popped up in communities like Telluride and Grand Junction. Organizations like Startup Colorado have developed platforms for regional entrepreneurs to connect and support each other. Big businesses, like Cloudrise and RockyMounts have relocated their corporate headquarters to Western Colorado chasing the dream of a lifestyle that balances recreation and hard work. Pitch events like the Greater Colorado Pitch Series have allowed local entrepreneurs to present their ideas and receive funding to launch their businesses, and of course, events like West Slope Startup Week have helped unite the entire community.

“Since 2019 I have seen a growing number of innovative companies in Western Colorado and what’s more exciting is that I have seen them grow their teams and offer really cool job opportunities in our communities,” said Aryn Schlicting of MountainCareers.com. “In general I see a more vibrant economy and great collaboration across communities which seems to benefit everyone.”

How Can You Get Involved?

Are you an entrepreneur or creative living or looking to relocate to the West Slope? You can help support Western Colorado’s blossoming startup ecosystem by attending West Slope Startup Week 2021. Meet hundreds of like minded individuals that are helping to pave the way to a thriving, connected regional business community. 

“I think the best part about WSSW is that it benefits people from all different stages in their careers and businesses,” Schlichting said. “It is a great place for people who are just curious about entrepreneurship or like to surround themselves with innovative people. But it also benefits all sized companies who are seeking a network and tools to grow locally. Ideally, this network is a constant rotation creating a place for inspiration, knowledge and connection.” 

This year’s West Slope Startup Week event will be held July 12-16th with a mix of virtual and in-person events happening across the west slope. Speakers can submit session ideas between now and April 23rd. The final schedule will be announced in June.