Happy New Year, friends ~
I hope 2024 is off to a great start for you. It has been an amazing learning opportunity for me in my new position as Executive Director of First Southwest Community Fund (FSWCF). I am excited to be bringing my years of experience supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses as a part of the team driving the incredible impact FSWCF’s programs have in our rural communities. I am also excited to be working in partnership with First Southwest Bank, a certified Community Development Financial Institution bank, without which our work would not be possible.
We have a small but mighty team and I want to share a brief highlight of our work last year. FSWCF staff facilitated 68 loans, 97 grants, helped create 193 jobs, and retained 160 jobs investing over $5,618,209 in our rural economies and communities. Thank you for your support, participation, collaboration, and partnership as we grow and move forward with helping entrepreneurs and small business owners attain their dreams.
Our focus is supporting the broad needs of the communities where we live. Our loans, grants, and education programs are designed to support entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and at every stage of their business. Please review our program information here.
We are excited about our 2024 offerings, starting with the Business Idea Lab (BIL). The BIL is a 4-week program designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs explore their vision, plan and refine their idea, and learn foundational principles. This program is offered in partnership with the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) and is underway.
The Fortaleza Fund supports an immigrant entrepreneurship education program with new workshops kicking off in February. This free workshop series is small-business focused and held virtually. Participants that graduate from this program have access to a $2,000 grant to help start their business journey. Click here to learn more and register.
Our Program Director, Tanya Perea Doose, and Entrepreneur Success Coordinator, Yani Rodriguez, bring a fresh perspective to our education programming. This year, we are excited to offer educational events and webinars, including a variety of bilingual sessions.
This month, we hosted our first bilingual online seminar on Small Business Tax Education in partnership with La Plata Food Equity Coalition, City of Durango, and Visit Durango. Be sure to sign up for our monthly Newsletter on our website to stay connected and learn about all of these offerings.
We are excited to offer a new round of funding through the USDA’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). RMAP supports technical services and microloans for rural small business owners across our rural communities. Stay tuned for more information and an upcoming introductory online seminar to the RMAP Program in the next few weeks.
We appreciate each of you as we grow entrepreneurship and small business ownership across southern and rural Colorado. Please reach out to me at [email protected] with any questions. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date. We are here to assist you and your business.
Let’s make 2024 the best year yet!
Rosy Aburto McDonough