Economic Recovery

Rustic Nomads

Starting a business in 2020—during the COVID-19 pandemic—has been a journey to say the least, but the owner of Rustic Nomads, Nathan Wiersum, will have bragging rights for life.   “The support received from the SBDC is why I continue to move .”

With a loan from DreamSpring to purchase a food truck, the rest of the business has been self-funded.  Originally, the plan was to grow into a restaurant as soon as possible.  With the pandemic, goals were reevaluated.  The debate was between two options, a restaurant or more food trucks.  

Either way, there was no stopping or slowing down.  Rustic Nomads actually grew exponentially in 2020.  While not be able to report huge profits, the focus during the first year was on building relationships.  Since COVID-19 spoiled the year for many, Wiersum thought it best to survive the year as opposed to pushing profits over people.  Many favorite locations have booked Rustic Nomads, solidifying the business and helping to build a following.  Profits from 2020 were invested in the business, helping the bottom line for 2021.

The Aurora-South Metro SBDC was pivotal in helping start the business and developing the idea of growth.  From helping with the business plan to getting the funding needed to start, the SBDC helped every step of the way.  Since it is a free service, Wiersum could not pass up on the tremendous return on investment and recommends the SBDC to anyone who wants to start their own business.

With one full-time and four to five part-time employees for larger events, Wiersum works with many of the breweries in the metropolitan area.  These partnerships provide Rustic Nomads with a location to sell food and a following to build clientele. Regulars will sometimes come from across town, and this helps the breweries because it puts more people in their seats as well.  Wiersum will plant roots when the time is right as he determines his target customer, traveling around the metropolitan area and narrowing the market.

Although not veteran-owned, Rustic Nomads stems from veterans.  “Growing up as military kids and moving every few years, we have had the fortune to  live on different continents and experience cuisine that we would not have  otherwise known.”  Rustic Nomads simply means ‘freedom to make unpretentious delicious food that everyone can enjoy anywhere.’  And they  do so with genuine hospitality.

While the food scene is relatively saturated, Wiersum believes that there is room in the industry IF supplying a good product.  And that’s the key.  Rustic Nomads sources their products locally and emphasizes using sustainable products.  Delicious food has become their trademark of excellence — from pastrami to mozzarella — and experiencing sandwiches from the Route 66 burger to the Wanderlust, with delectable sides.  Visit (The first photo above:  Nathan Wiersum (rt) with Jen Findlow who helped Rustic Nomads make their first dollar.)

Rustic Nomads Read More »

Climber Fund – videos en ingles y español

The CLIMBER (Colorado Loans to Increase Mainstreet Business Economic Recovery) Loan Fund provides up to $250 million in working capital loans to Colorado small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic through 2023. Small businesses with 5-99 employees that were financially stable before the pandemic but now need help to survive may apply for working capital loans between $30,000 and $500,000. 

Learn more about the CLIMBER Loan Program.  
Find a participating lender to start your application.  
Watch the video below with Richard Lewis, President of the Colorado Black Chamber.

AND — Watch the video below in Spanish with Elena Vasconez, Economic & Business Development Supervisor with the Aurora-South Metro SBDC and the City of Aurora.  (Climber website in Spanish)

Colorado abre el programa de prestamos CLIMBER
El Fondo de crédito CLIMBER (Colorado Loans to Increase Mainstreet Business Economic Recovery) proporcionará hasta $250 millones para capital de trabajo para aquellos pequeños negocios que han sido impactados negativamente durante la pandemia hasta el año 2023.  Pequeños negocios con 5 a 99 empleados que estuvieron financieramente estables durante la pandemia, pero que ahora necesitan ayuda para sobrevivir, puede aplicar para préstamos de $ 30,000 a $ 500,000 para capital de trabajo.

Para mayor información en Español vaya a la página: con Elena Vasconez, Economic & Business Development Supervisor with the Aurora-South Metro SBDC and the Ciudad de Aurora.

Climber Fund – videos en ingles y español Read More »

Current Recovery Funds

There are excellent opportunities for businesses that have been negatively affected by the pandemic.  They include the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL – still open through December 31, 2021), the newer Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and Shuttered Venues Operating Grant (SVOG), and the State of Colorado’s CLIMBER Loan Fund.  The Paycheck Protection Program funds have been exhausted.  Read on about each program.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)  — Apply directly through the SBA.
The deadline 
is December 31, 2021.


AFTER applying for the EIDL, this is the contact info.  Remember to keep track of your loan #.

EIDL Customer Service Contact (email is best): | 1-800-659-2955.
Please use your application # in the subject line, and include your name, business name and contact info, and
specifically request to speak to a loan officer.


– To receive updates from the SBA, go to www.sba.govthen click on NewsRoom. It takes you a page with instructions which allows individuals to self-subscribe.

– The SBDC does not process loans; the SBDC is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), but is not
the SBA, a federal agency.

SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)  — “After serving more than eight million small businesses, general funding for the bi-partisan Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted. The SBA will continue funding outstanding approved PPP applications, but new qualifying applications will only be funded through a $9.9 billion set aside for Community Financial Institutions, financial lenders that serve underserved communities. The SBA is committed to delivering economic aid through the many COVID relief programs it is currently administering and beyond.”

For inquiries about current loans and applications, contact your lender first, or, for SBA assistance:  800-347-0922 (ask to speak with an SBA loan officer)


SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) —  — For existing live venues in the creative arts industry.  Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue.  Visit site for details.


SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) – –  — This program will provide emergency assistance to existing restaurants and other food-related businesses with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss.  Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.  Visit site for details.

View an On-Demand webinar in either English or Spanish, provided by the city of Fort Collins and the Larimar SBDC:

English On-Demand webinar (free) — Register here.
SBA presentation in English (
download here).

Spanish en linea (gratis) — Registración aquí.
Presentación de SBA in español (

In the first two days of the RRF application window, the SBA received:

• 186,200 applications from restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and five U.S. Territories.

• 97,600 applications of which came from restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses owned and controlled by women (46,400), veterans (4,200), socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (30,800), or some combination of the three (16,200).

• 61,700 applications from businesses with under $500,000 in annual pre-pandemic revenue, representing some of the smallest restaurants and bars in America.


State of Colorado’s CLIMBER Fund (Colorado Loans to Increase Mainstreet Business Economic Recovery) — 

First, for eligibility requirements and program details, visit

Secondly, meet with a participating lender to apply (find a lender).  Review this checklist to prepare to meet with your lender.

Current Recovery Funds Read More »

Havana Street Tattoo and Legacy Tattoo Collective

Havana Street Tattoo opened 15 years ago in Aurora.  The tattooing industry has shown its potential for significant growth in the past 10 years and continues to do so, because the customer base and artists offering the service have evolved past an old stereotype into a market of true professional artistry and serious collectors.

In mid-2019, business partners and co-owners, Larry Foussat and Gilbert Ledesma decided to open a new location in Aurora to expand the shop’s client base and create opportunity to contract additional artists.  Build-out commenced in January 2020 with an intentional opening date at the end of March.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 shelter in place order was a major obstacle to opening a second business, but there were others as well.

Despite the experience of running a reputable business for over a decade, the process of applying for funding and opening a new business was unclear.  Contacting the Aurora-South Metro SBDC was the most beneficial first step possible.  The small business consultant offered direction on a plan of action, creating a comprehensive well-organized business plan and ultimately provided information about optional funding sources, including possible grants and loans offered by the city of Aurora.  The shop took out a commercial loan and line of credit to finance the expansion.

An additional hindrance included a local resident that submitted a complaint to the city of Aurora Planning Commission about a tattoo business opening in the neighborhood.   A zoning hearing was scheduled to rectify this issue, and an Aurora-South Metro SBDC representative provided supportive comments at the hearing.

The new location, Legacy Tattoo Collective, successfully opened in mid-September 2020.  The current growth is generating enough revenue to pay the bills and maintain a steady minimum operational balance, despite the financial impact of responsibly conducting business during the pandemic.  Failure for the new shop was not an option.

“The guidance and assistance that we’ve received from the Aurora-South Metro SBDC prior to opening our new shop, and throughout the process, has been amazing! It has been like having an expert, professional friend who is always available to help with whatever questions or issues that come up.”

The business brothers are looking past the pandemic.  The business has grown from four employees to seven, the commercial loan should be paid off within five years, and federal funding received during COVID-19 will be paid if the pandemic complications ease soon.  A third location in northeast Aurora is the new goal once the debt has been paid and the city builds out a little more in that direction.

Havana Street Tattoo and Legacy Tattoo Collective Read More »

Douglas County Small Business Expo

Douglas County is host to this Small Business Expo, a resource and economic update in conjunction with Arapahoe/Douglas Works! and the Aurora-South Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC).    Hear from the U.S. Small Business Administration Colorado District Office, small business lenders and several small business programs on Monday, February 22nd, 1PM – 2PM

Keynote Speaker: Patrick Holwell, Arapahoe/Douglas Works!  
“The State of the Douglas County Economy”

Receive up-to-date information on helpful resources to support small businesses:
Informational Breakout Sessions:

1. Douglas County Programs:  
The 5 Star program, small business relief grant and library business resources

2.  Resiliency Resources for Small Businesses:
Topics to be covered:  free and confidential one-on-one consulting, business educational webinars, the Connect2DOT program and services, Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) services and Manufacturers Edge.

3.  Workforce Development Services For Employers:  
Topic:  Workforce services to help improve talent pipeline

4.  Lending Options for Small Businesses:  
Topics to be covered:  SBA Loans, the Paycheck Protection Program, SBA EIDL disaster loans, community nonprofit lending options, KIVA lending and other alternative sources of financing.

Register to receive the webinar link, updates and reminders (no charge).

Douglas County Small Business Expo Read More »

Skip to content