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Success Stories

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.

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

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Grandma’s Rockin’ Rolls

It was Laura Neilson’s grandmother who spent hours teaching her children and grandchildren how to bake – while sharing life lessons and family stories. Grandma and her sister-in-law sold cinnamon rolls ‘in town’ to help supplement the farming income. Can you image the commute on horseback during the depression in a Minnesota winter?! Laura had been making Grandma’s rolls and giving them as gifts and holiday treats for over 30 years. But as Laura’s career

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Launch Pad Brewery

The end of an unexpectedly volatile 2020 is a great time to tell the success story about one of Aurora’s prized businesses.  David LeVesque spent about a decade perfecting his technique of home brewing with some help from The Brew Hut and visiting Colorado breweries.  The idea of opening a business location started ‘brewing’ about six years ago, and Launch Pad’s mission came together after working on the start-up’s financials over several meetings with an

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Leatherneck Precision Machine

Leatherneck Precision Machine is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that specializes in precision machined components for the aerospace, defense, medical, dental, injection molding and other commercial industries that need precision machined parts for their product lines.  Sometimes people’s lives depend on special machine parts, such as aircraft structures, automobiles, and human-rated spacecrafts, and Leatherneck is an AS9100D- and ISO9001-certified company able to do that technical work.  He also has SDVOSB and SDVBE certifications (for small

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Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant

In the restaurant world a successful business often begins with family. When Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant, a new hotspot in Lone Tree, opened, the whole family pitched in to help owners Jim and Lasinda Crane make their dreams come true. Hours after the ink was dry on the restaurant lease, the couple began updating the décor and kitchen with the help of friends and family. Lasinda’s father David, a retired electrician, helped build a bar and

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Dry Dock Brewing Company

The award-winning Dry Dock Brewing Company is Aurora’s first microbrewery. Established in October 2005, Dry Dock is co-owned and operated by Kevin DeLange and Michelle Reding. The brewery began with just two employees in a 900 square-foot space with less than 20 seats in the back of Kevin and Michelle’s homebrew supply shop, The Brew Hut. They brewed less than 500 barrels of beer in 2006. How-ever, Dry Dock has enjoyed tremendous success and growth

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