DENVER — The Commons on Champa, a nationally-recognized public entrepreneurship center led by the Downtown Denver Partnership, celebrated its third anniversary last week. In conjunction with the anniversary, the Partnership released the 2017-2018 Commons Impact Report: Another Year at the Intersection of Risk & Reward and honored six individuals and organizations making significant and unique contributions to Denver’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
More than six years ago, the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Board of Directors crafted the vision for an entrepreneurial center that would be a hub for driving innovation in Denver. “We believed by creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, we could attract additional innovation to our city and foster place-based economic development that plays a key role in building an economically powerful center city,” said Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “Over 40,000 people have walked through The Commons’ doors in the three years since it opened, and every aspect of the program has exceeded expectations. A strong, unique and powerful community has been built here at The Commons.”
The 2017-2018 Impact report highlights the positive impact of The Commons in entrepreneurship and economic development in the last year, detailing the engagement of more than 19,000 community members and 190 entrepreneurship support organizations in education, training and support initiatives. Through its community space and expanded original programs funded in part by an Inclusion Challenge grant from The Kauffman Foundation, over 400 volunteers provided 4,900 entrepreneurs with 2,250 hours of training, counsel, advice, and mentorship at The Commons. The Commons also supported 63 entrepreneurs founding 47 companies in its new 9-week business development accelerator program, CO.Starters at The Commons. This has resulted in more than 60 new jobs helping to bolster the economy in downtown Denver.
The report features many entrepreneurs who leveraged The Commons programs to develop their businesses in 2017-2018, including Sarah Tuneberg the co-founder and CEO of disaster recovery technology company, Geospiza. “The CO.Starters at The Commons program took our product from so so to incredible,” said Tuneberg. Connections she made at The Commons led to her team’s successful application to Techstars, a global accelerator for technology startups where Geospiza attracted the clients and investors needed to scale the company. The team has since expanded its team and selected a location in downtown Denver for its headquarters. The company plans to deploy its technology throughout the country to save thousands of lives each year. Sarah was selected by The Commons’ entrepreneur community as the 2017-2018 Entrepreneur of the Year for her demonstration of leadership and exceptional support of fellow entrepreneurs.
“Organizations and individuals are increasingly interested in achieving economic and community impact through entrepreneurship,” said Jacqui Dietrich, manager of The Commons program, “Nearly 30 million Americans are running businesses today and reports indicate our metropolitan area consistently ranks among the top 10 regions for startup activity, including a five-year startup growth rate of 74 percent and a regional density of 93 startups per 1,000 employer businesses. With young companies driving job and wealth creation, and economic growth in our region, The Commons serves as a central point of access to the personal, business, financial and community support that entrepreneurs need. We are working to improve the local environment for entrepreneurs to achieve higher rates of startup success, and make Denver #1 in entrepreneurship.”
Recipients of the 2017-2018 Commons Awards presented by the Downtown Denver Partnership are: JPMorgan Chase, Comcast and Quarterly Forum (Honorary Partners), Rockies Venture Club (Community Partner), Olivia Omega Wallace (Volunteer of the Year), and Sarah Tuneberg (Entrepreneur of the Year).
Photo courtesy of Downtown Denver Partnership