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Denver is nation's seventh-greenest city

For the fourth consecutive year, Denver has ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities for the percentage of its office space qualified as green certified, according to a recent survey by energy consultants CBRE and Maastricht University.

With a modest year-over-year improvement, 13.3 percent of Denver office buildings are certified green, representing 41.9 percent of overall office square footage, according to the annual Green Building Adoption Index. That’s compared with 11.8 percent and 40.2 percent, respectively, last year.

Chicago claimed the top spot in 2017, while San Francisco slipped to second and Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis rounded out the top five markets.

“Green” office buildings in the United States are defined as those that hold either an EPA Energy Star label, U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification or both.

“Denver companies are savvy, and they realize that operating out of an energy-efficient space can not only save money and benefit the environment but also be a point of differentiation when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent,” says Sam DePizzol, executive vice president with CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services in Denver. “With one of the tightest labor markets in the country, we are seeing more and more Colorado companies pay attention to the role their real estate places in creating a competitive advantage.”
 

Colorado Enterprise Fund reaches new heights for 40th anniversary

The Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) saw record growth in its 40th year. Among other things, its total portfolio balance increased to $16.2 million and its loans increased from $4.4 million in 2013 to $9.2 million in 2016. 

In terms of jobs, its loans helped the companies it supports retain and create 2,369 jobs in fiscal year 2016, which ended Sept. 30. That's up from 1,747 or 36 percent in fiscal year 2013. 

"This was an amazing team effort," says Ceyl Prinster, CEF president and CEO. "Our ability to help more businesses start and grow so their communities can prosper was only possible through the tireless dedication of our staff and strategic support of our board of directors. We're thrilled to have made history as we celebrated our 40th year of helping small businesses in Colorado!"

Since launching in Denver in 1976, CEF has issued more than $56 million in loans supporting more than 1,900 small businesses and creating and retaining more than 16,000 jobs. Since then the fund has become a US Treasury Department certified Community Development Financial Institution.

Over the past few years, the organization saw increases across the board, allowing it to help fund even more small businesses and foster more job growth. It closed $9.2 million in loans in 2016, an increase of $2.1 million, 30 percent higher than in the previous year. It also closed a total of 217 loans which is 13 percent higher than in the previous year.

In the past three years, the amount of loans CEF managed grew from 365 to 550 loans. The organization also expanded who it granted loans to as well. CEF loans to minority-owned businesses increased 111 percent while loans to low-income entrepreneurs increased 72 percent. Loans to women-owned businesses grew by 36 percent and were nearly half of all the loans CEF closed over the past three years. 

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

COIN announces new direction

The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) is announcing a new focus and direction to place Colorado at the forefront of the civic disruption conversation. The organization will concentrate on public sector innovation.

COIN is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade with the mission of advancing connections in the global innovation ecosystem to place Colorado as a leader in innovation. As such, it is pivoting toward more public sector innovation and will officially launch the new focus in early November. 

The public-private partnership has a physical and virtual global network of more than 2,000 people that support the state's innovation ecosystem, its growing companies, and are helping to create jobs in the state. 

The new focus will be announced at the Reverb Conference, hosted by COIN and Sound Ventures on Nov. 3. At the conference, COIN and partners also will announce the 2nd Imagine Colorado Innovation Challenge. The conference is aimed at matching public sector changemakers with entrepreneurs and innovators who are developing technologies ideal for the government.

The organization also is committed to expanding its actions with a new digital platform. COIN is expanding its reach through blogs, podcasts and video.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Colorado Enterprise Fund awarded $2.4M to support small business in low-income areas

The Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) received a total of $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to support its small business lending and technical assistance programs as well as its Colorado Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).

Of the total, $1.75 million will go to CEF's small business lending and technical assistance programs. The remaining $650,000 will support HFFI in Colorado. 

"We are honored to receive these two awards from the CDFI Fund this year," says Ceyl Prinster, president and CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund. "This dual funding will increase our ability to finance businesses that create jobs, enhance economic vitality and expand community prosperity, as well as contribute to the health of Colorado's citizens through broader access to fresh, healthy foods."

Since 1996, CEF has been awarded nearly $10.9 million to increase access to capital and technical assistance for small business owners. The awards have helped small businesses leverage more than $54 million in public and private-sector capital lending to more than 1,800 businesses creating over 16,000 jobs.  

The HFFI awards will help CEF reduce food deserts throughout Colorado and increase access to fresh, healthy food options. Thus far HFFI has received $2.2 million (including the $650,000 just announced) to support its programs. 

Two other organizations in Colorado also received funding from the CDFI, which gave a total of $185.7 million to 196 organizations designated as CDFIs across the country. The other recipients in Colorado were Colorado Housing Enterprises in Westminster and Alamosa, which received $1.25 million, and La Plata Homes Fund in Durango, which received $700,000.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Denver proposes dedicated fund for affordable housing

On July 13, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilwoman Robin Kniech introduced the details of the city's plan to create funding to support affordable housing.

Pending approval by Denver City Council, the funding will be generated by way of development fees and property taxes. Over the next 10 years, the new funding stream could generate $150 million, allowing for the construction of 6,000 new homes for low- to moderate-income families in the city and catalyze thousands of jobs in the process.

"There is no more important a priority in Denver right now than affordable housing," Mayor Hancock said. "In my state of the city speech yesterday, I spoke about the thousands of people who lack the simple advantages so many of us take for granted, like a place to call home. Home ownership gives families a foundation to build equity, build wealth and build a life. This is a fair, balanced and modest approach to address one of the most pressing problems facing Denver today."

The proposal from the mayor's office are expected to cost residential property owners $1 a month and commercial property owners $145 annually for every $1 million worth of commercial valuation. It also would establish a one-time development fee on new construction projects collected when a project receives its building permit. Residential construction fees for single-family homes will carry a 60 cent per square foot fee and multi-family homes will carry a $1.50 per square foot fee. Industrial projects will pay a 40 cents per square foot fee and retail, hotel and other commercial development will pay a $1.70 per square foot fee.

"By pairing a small portion of the property tax revenue that Denver voters approved almost four years ago with what would be one of the lowest one-time fees on new residential and commercial development in the nation, our broader community will be coming together with a sector of the economy generating some of the demand to create a bold solution for affordable housing in Denver," Kniech contended.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Craftsman & Apprentice crowdfunding workshop expansion

Craftsman & Apprentice, a maker workshop that launched in 2014, is seeking to expand into a new space via Kickstarter.

The new space would allow it to create a retail co-op for crafts and wares made by its makers and workshop leaders and separate production and workshop space. It would allow the startup to purchase more tools, create a production space and host different types of events, like live music.

The space began as a place where husband and wife Jonathan Fessler and Delanie Holton-Fessler could work and host the occasional wooden-bow workshop and market. Now it hosts workshops where adults can learn about everything from making a better pie crust to carving a wooden spoon, hosting drop-in workshops and Saturday kid workshops, where kids can get supervised, hands-on experience learning and tinkering with wood, scraps, cardboard and tools like hammers and drills.

Now the owners are looking to expand the concept to have dedicated maker spaces as well as a dedicated retail space with gallery and learning spaces. To achieve that they’re looking to Kickstarter to expand into a storefront two doors down their current space, where workshops can be louder. The expansion also would support purchasing a kiln and more tools, as well as a scholarship program to help more kids learn about making.

Some of the rewards for investing are pretty unique, including getting your sidewalk shoveled by Jon -- in the neighborhood -- for $20. Others include workshops for kids (like tinker time and bow-and-arrow carving) and adults (including fermentation classes, woodworking with reclaimed wood and pie crust mastery).

The Kickstarter campaign runs through Dec. 7.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Entrepreneurs assemble: Denver Startup Week passes 10,000 attendees

Denver Startup Week surpassed more than 10,000 registered attendees this week. That’s roughly triple the amount of people who registered for the first startup week in 2012. It also makes it the largest free entrepreneurial event in the country.

The event has proven more popular every year, drawing not only more attendees but also more sessions and bigger names. This year the entrepreneur’s festival had more than 230 separate events. That's up from 70 in its first year.

But if you’re worried the action stops with the end of Denver Startup Week today, don’t. On Oct. 9 next week the the Colorado chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization is hosting the Rocky Mountain Entrepreneurial Summit at the Hyatt Regency by the Convention Center. This event, however, isn't free. Tickets are $395 a pop, which includes four tickets to The Motet and Flobots at a private show at Red Rocks.

This summit features Lance Armstrong, Aron Ralston, Amy Van Dyken, John Jacobs, Brad Feld and other local and national business leaders. It's a long day of sessions, too, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. at Red Rocks.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

PaintCare launches statewide paint recycling program

Too many people have leftover paint after repainting their home or apartment. This stuff usually sits around until it can't be used anymore or ends up in the dump -- which is not good since paints can leach toxic materials into the ground. But last year Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation into law requiring paint recycling. Now, through the free paint recycling program, PaintCare, Coloradans are able to recycle the paint hiding behind the stairs, in the basement or in the garage -- for free!

PaintCare was set up by paint manufacturers as a way to mitigate paint waste. The organization says that more than half of the materials handled by household hazardous waste facilities is paint.


There are already nearly 50 paint drop-off locations in the Denver area, and the organization already has more than 100 locations throughout Colorado. Many of these are at hardware and paint stores

"We are thrilled to see the excitement and energy from Colorado retailers to become paint drop-off sites," says Paul Fresina, PaintCare's director of communications. "Before the program was implemented, many people didn't have any easy way to get rid of their unwanted paint, but now Coloradans have the option to simply drop off paint at a PaintCare retail partner near them for recycling."

The legislation signed by Hickenlooper doesn't require a fee for recycling. However, Coloradans are already paying to recycle paint when they purchase it. That's because the legislation imposed a small fee on the purchase of paint. For instance, a five-gallon bucket of paint carries a $1.60 fee to handle recycling.

Once the paint is collected PaintCare processes it into a number of things. Some is remixed into recycled-content paint, used as fuel or made into other products or. In some case, when paint is unrecyclable, PaintCare dries it out and disposes of it. Visit www.paintcare.org to learn more.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Garth Brooks crushes Pepsi Center sales record, thanks partly to Denver's Faction

When Garth Brooks announced his final tour, it was guaranteed that tickets would sell pretty well, and they did: His nine shows in Denver sold 140,000 tickets in under three hours. That's partly thanks to success of Faction's infrastructure-as-a-service system, which helped facilitate the online sales traffic for Altitude Tickets.

Denver-based Faction says the service was successful enough that now Altitude parent company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment will expand their use of the cloud-based services provided by Faction as well as ePlexity. The latter migrated Pepsi Center's ticket sales to Faction's platform. Previously Altitude tickets had purchased and managed their own equipment in a third-party data center. However the system required more capital expenditures to deal with usage spikes and new hardware.


"Faction and ePlexity have helped us to create a hosting environment which better meets our needs in terms of both performance and cost efficiencies," says Rick Schoenhals, VP of Information Technology at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. "We've also gained the flexibility to respond to business challenges more quickly with effective solutions that can directly target our business needs."

The Faction and ePlexity services allow the Pepsi Center to raise or lower their usage of the services without changing the amount they spent on the services. Faction says it was able to reduce costs while increasing revenue for the venue compared to its previous ticketing system.

"With the broad customization available on Faction's Cloud we were able to provide Altitude Tickets greater control, functionality and on-demand capacity," says Luke Norris, Faction founder and CEO.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Need booze delivered? There's an app for that

A new app, Liquor Limo recently debuted in Denver. The app, for Android and iOS devices, allows users to either have their liquor, beer and wine selections ready for pickup or to schedule an order for delivery. For delivery orders over $50, there’s no delivery charge either.

The app is ideal for someone holding a party that doesn’t have time to go to the store to pick up the liquor beforehand. Liquor Limo partners with liquor stores that have more than three years of delivery service. The company includes members of the team that founded Baroness Wines in 2001, which became the largest independent wine, beer and spirits distribution company in Colorado. The company was sold to a division of Berkshire Hathaway in 2014.

The app-based delivery service has 15 retail partners in Colorado that can service customers in Avon, Boulder, Carbondale, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins, Frisco, Greeley, Montrose, Pueblo, Stapleton, Thornton and Vail. The company already is expanding to additional markets and states.

"Through the app, customers in Denver and across Colorado, can receive scheduled and professional liquor delivery, while still supporting their local neighborhood retailers," explains Kevin Byrne, Liquor Limo COO.

If users can’t find what they’re looking for at a store, the company offers a Replica Recommendation Engine based on what it calls "Copy Cat DNA Matches" -- which it says is testing done to find the best substitutes when a particular spirit or brew isn’t available. “Our proprietary Replica Recommendation Engine enables users to explore vast retailer inventories, and discover new beverages based on the chemical fingerprint of their current likes and dislikes,” Byrne explains. 

The recommendation engine has evaluated more than 15,000 beverages and spirits. It can either match for unavailable spirits and beverages or make recommendations for similar but less expensive alternatives.

The app requires users to have a valid photo ID showing that they are 21 years old or older. They can then search store inventories for similar tasting beverages, often at a fraction of the price.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Funnybone Toys marches forward with two new games for 2015

Building on the success of its current line of games and interactive toys, Funnybone Toys is getting ready to introduce toy new games for 2015, Juxtabo and Spectracube. The new toys will start hitting stores in February following Toy Fair New York.

Both games are are intended for people as young as 6 and offer challenges for people much older. With Juxtabo, the board is actually made out of the puzzle pieces, two-sided discs with different colors on each side. "Juxtabo is for people who like chess, checkers and other games," Funnybone Toys founder Julien Sharp. "You get these pieces and build the board out of them."

Players must match the color and pattern presented on cards and the player who collects the most cards wins. As board grows it can resemble a mountain range or other 3D structures.

Spectracube has 30 dice-like cubes, half with primary colors, the other half with secondary colors. "There are six games in one," Sharp says. However, users, particularly children, are encouraged to use the cubes to create their own games with the cubes, she adds.

The company is building on its previous success. Its other games, Funnybones, Disruptus, Arrazzles and others have all won multiple awards. Most of the company's games are intended for a family audience, but not Disruptus. "That particular game is really for the corporate world," Sharp says. "The others are more for family fun, getting kids to think." She's spoken at numerous business conferences about using Disruptus in the corporate world.

The next step for Funnybone Toys is more submissions. "Our games consistently win," Sharp says. "I'll be submitting them to MENSA. We might have a nice chance there and with Dr. Toy."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

If at first you don't succeed, learn from it!

Nobody likes to fail and most people don't like to discuss their failures. But in entrepreneurialism, failure can be an important step in moving forward.

"The reality of it is the likelihood of failure is really high for startups," says Brian Parks, General Manager for Galvanize in Colorado and Co-Founder and former CEO of Brandfolder.

Parks moderated the Founders Talking Failure panel of Denver Startup Week on Tues. Sept. 16 at Galvanize. Parks was joined by Mike Biselli, Co-Founder of MedPassage; Tom Higley, Founder of FortNET, NETdelivery, Service Metrics and Latis Networks/StillSecure; and Jess Lybeck, who co-founded Dabble.

"We're talking about failure and how to handle that and if you do experience failure personally and professional and how to view that as a catalyst for growth," Parks explains. "Failing for failure's sake is not that awesome, but you can learn from it and grow, and that is awesome."

Parks served as Brandfolder's CEO for about 18 months, from the "back of the napkin stage to generating revenue," he says. While the company still exists, he's no longer with it. He says he considered launching a new startup right away, but instead started reflecting on it, which has allowed him to better understand the value in the experience.

"I think investors view failure in a certain way as well," Parks says. They want to know how the person who was in charge of a company can relate that experience, what they've learned about it and what they will do differently in future situations."

He says it's important that fresh entrepreneurs "don't act like there's not a potential for failure. I don't know how you grow or take a big swing without risking that you'll fail."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Find local breweries and more with CraftedHere

Want to find the nearest or newest brewery or marijuana dispensary in Colorado? Check out Denver-based Craft Boom's recently launched app, CraftedHere.

The app is available on Apple and Android devices and the information also is available via craftedhere.us.

Craft Boom CEO Chase Doelling explains that the company launched the app about a month ago and are now starting to bring attention to it after a softer launch.

"What we're hoping to capitalize on now is cannabis tourism," Doelling says. "As people come in they're mainly focussed on trying cannabis because its legal. But there are all these breweries here and all this here and you can capture all the side markets. People might not know what's around the corner from them outside of just landing in downtown and wandering close to the center of the city."

Currently the app and site cover five categories of Colorado-friendly crafts: breweries, cannabis shops, coffee shops, distilleries and wineries. Doelling says the information is populated from state records and actual experiences. Information for each brewery includes information about their awards at the Great American Beer Festival. However, instead of customer reviews, the app uses badges to rate the sites.

Also, the map-based app can show users what's nearby. "So if you're in a brewery it will tell you what's the nearest coffee shop, the closest park and going down the list," Doelling says. In the future, the Craft Boom team could cover restaurants and other points of crafty interest, he adds.

At this point, the information is only available for Colorado and users can manually submit information about new breweries through email, but can't add them to the app or site. As the user base grows, Doelling hopes to expand it to more markets to the western U.S.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Ready, set, vegetable! Find your local farmers' markets online

You can always go and get your fruits, and vegetables from the grocery stores, but they come from parts unknown and suffer from a lack of diversity -- and it's expensive.

It's June, it's time to be outside. Over in Palisade, peaches are ripening, and like wildflowers, farmers' markets are once again popping up. Overall, there are nearly 30 farmers' markets in the metro region with a lucky 13 close to Denver's heart.

Finding them and figuring out where and when they open and close can be frustrating, but Derek Rojers of Extra Space Storage recently created a Google map with all that information, making it easier to see how close people at to their local farmer's markets.

"I made this map as a way to help local businesses and people, who are the main support for our business here at Extra Space Storage," he says. "It is a community effort that we are hoping will help to grow the local community, help people, and keep money in Denver."

Rojers says he scoured the Internet to learn about local farmers' markets and got some added input from people who emailed him. "People cannot add their markets to the map, but they are more than welcome to email me and I will add them," he says.

Oh, and did we mention all the free samples farmers and local food manufacturers like salsa and sauce and jam makers give out? In a word, yum.

Check the map out and find your local farmers' market below. 


Map provided by your local Extra Space Storage

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Ticket Cricket offers an alternative to parking tickets

It seems Denver thrives on issuing parking tickets and infractions, after all when you’ve forgotten to pay off previous parking tickets -- after all, it’s not called the Oklahoma City Boot or the Big Apple Boot, it's the Denver Boot. But at least one local startup, Ticket Cricket, is trying to change that with a new app and perhaps a nicer way to avoid getting a ticket.

"What’s the purpose of the parking ticket?” asks Ticket Cricket Co-Founder and CEO Taylor Linnell. “If you get a ticket on your windshield two things happen: One, you have no idea you have a ticket, obviously you would have tried to pay your meter; or two, you got a ticket and now you’ve got no incentive to move your car. If the whole goal of parking tickets is to increase parking turnover, then actually issuing a parking ticket does the reverse of that."

“We want to give coverage to people when life gets away from them or the need goes a little longer than you thought, life’s just so busy and chaotic," Linnell adds. “It helps everyone involved. Why not find them a solution focussed on cooperation?" That’s where the Ticket Cricket app is trying to make headway in Denver and other cities.

The premise behind the app is the ability to extend the time a user can stay in a spot after the meter expires without receiving a ticket -- but still paying a fine -- for the time they need to get back to their vehicle and move it. For instance, a user could get 5 more minutes for $5 or 10 minutes for $10 -- still less than a $25 ticket but enough to make them want to move their vehicle before getting a full-fledged ticket. Linnell originally set up some ideal times and target prices but says the system needs to be flexible to allow different cities to implement it at the rates they deem appropriate.

The app works by communicating with parking patrollers and chirpers (users). When a user parks their vehicle they can log in, geotagging their vehicle. When a parking patroller nears a car owned by a chirper close to or after the time the chirper's time at the spot is up, the patroller is alerted and can push a request to the chirper to extend that time for a fee. The chirper can choose to pay to extend their time at the spot for a short time or get the ticket.

Taylor says he has an upcoming meeting with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock about the app and is in talks with other cities about implementing the Ticket Cricket system, but so far it hasn't been deployed. That said, the ad-supported app is already available for download at the iOS store.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.
24 Uptown Articles | Page: | Show All
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