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Local non-profit helping entrepreneurs start, maintain businesses in SE Colorado Springs

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Posted at 10:19 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 09:55:26-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, News 5 wants to spotlight a local non-profit helping marginalized communities.

Thrive Colorado Springs trains entrepreneurs on how to start and maintain businesses in southeast Colorado Springs.

"Urbanites is a non-profit organization that helps provide scholarships to students every year. It just so happened that they offered to rent out their space to me for my first location," said Jackie Lujan, The Lighthouse Early Care Education.

Lujan is opening a daycare center for kids between the ages of 2 and 12.

"We are not your typical full care daycare center. We have combined accommodation and free play into one culture and so we are a drop-in daycare center. I will have available packages for parents to choose from on a monthly basis, they range from a different amount of hours per month. You purchase it monthly. and we have an online portal where you can schedule the time blocks that best fit your needs," said Lujan.

She's been trying to open her daycare for the last two years.

"We have nothing of the sort here so as a mother of three this is what inspired me to start something like this because not everyone needs full-time care," said Lujan.

It's something that wouldn't have been possible without the help of Thrive Colorado Springs.

"The program gives you that leeway to where if you don't know what kind of business you're interested in starting. They give you all of the tools and everything you need to get you to that point," said Lujan.

"In 2017, I opened the doors to Autoshop Vocational which is a 20-day curriculum that trains anyone with a driver's license to become viable in the workforce and an entry-level auto technician. After the pandemic, we've developed an online workshop that provides skills and training to high school kids," said Gregg Sheldon, Founder and Lead Instructor at Autoshop Vocational PBC.

He says Thrive Colorado Springs was recommended by another graduate of the program.

"Some of the key things that I learned from Thrive was time blocking. Making sure you have time for everything in life. You have to schedule lunch, grocery shopping and everything you have to do every day because as an entrepreneur you're working 24/7," said Sheldon.

There are barriers to becoming an entrepreneur in southeast Colorado Springs.

"There is not a lot of industrial space, especially with warehouses. Also, it's kinda a food desert, there's not a lot of good restaurants. A lot of them are restaurants in a box, and we have to go out of town and out of this side of town to find these good restaurants," said Sheldon.

There are also not many opportunities for people like him— the justice-involved.

"75 percent of our entrepreneurs have had trouble with the criminal justice system or one of their relatives has," said Andi Propst, Operations Manager at Thrive Networks.

The non-profit organization is accepting applications for April. To find out information on enrollment, visit this website.