Saluting Colorado Springs’ veteran entrepreneurs
For more than 70 years, Colorado Springs’ veterans have formed a strong community around our region’s long-standing military presence and thriving aerospace and defense industry. Today, Colorado Springs is one of the top places in the nation for veterans to start a new chapter of their lives and careers, thanks to the wealth of benefits that come with the way we do business in Colorado Springs.
WalletHub just announced their “2019 Best & Worst Places for Veterans to Live,” listing Colorado Springs in the top 10 at #6 in the nation! This Veterans Day, we salute our veterans who utilize their unique values and skillsets to elevate our community and local economy.
Veteran entrepreneurs aim high in Colorado Springs
Who are Colorado Springs’ veteran entrepreneurs? Their career fields widely vary, but a common theme unites them all: a spirit of leadership and steady hand of experience have allowed their businesses to soar.
Equipped with an intimate knowledge of our nation’s defense and security priorities, many of Colorado Springs’ veterans have become an integral part of the innovation driving our region’s cybersecurity and IT industry. As the founder and owner of Colorado Springs-based Firma IT Solutions, Air Force veteran Rodney Gullatte, Jr. has made a substantial local impact. He also serves as a founder of the Colorado Springs Black Business Network, a consultant for the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and a leading member in a host of other community and business organizations. In addition, Navy veteran Tim Jones has led data analytics company ISSAC to provide world-class solutions to the military along with healthcare and energy providers.
Other Colorado Springs’ veterans, like Mark Swarney of Custom Linings, Inc. and Josh Phifer of Barn Owl, have put their military experience to use by developing successful high tech solutions for diverse industries. Swarney got his start in industrial linings while working on defense products as an Air Force servicemember. Phifer, a fellow Air Force veteran, has found that “being in the military is comparable to starting a company” in the process of creating surveillance systems to help rural businesses be more productive and secure.
Last but not least, Colorado Springs’ veterans have created a fully-fledged craft beverage scene of veteran-owned breweries to enrich the local community. Army veteran Todd Baldwin has led his team at Red Leg Brewing Co. to become one of the fastest-growing breweries in the state while also volunteering to build new houses for veterans in need. Cockpit Craft Distillery, owned by Air Force veteran Calder Curtis, proudly pursues their mission to provide customers with unique craft spirits and promote the aviation industry’s rich history. Other veteran-owned businesses in Colorado Springs’ craft beverage industry include 3 Hundred Days Distilling, Peaks N Pines, Springs Beer Tours, and Colorado Mountain Brewery.
Local resources provide a launchpad for success
On the educational front, the Boots to Suits program at University of Colorado Colorado Springs provides student veterans with hands-on career preparation, networking opportunities, and support with reintegration into the workforce. Colorado Springs’ veterans can also find traction for their small business ventures through free one-on-one business consulting and affordable, specialized training programs with the Pikes Peak SBDC.
Furthermore, the Military Affairs Council (MAC) supports Colorado Springs’ veterans in building relationships with local businesses and community members. The MAC has advocated and partnered with industry leaders to ensure that Colorado Springs feels like home to the men and women who have courageously served our nation.
With so many success stories to highlight, it’s not an overstatement to say that Colorado Springs’ veterans constitute one of the deepest talent pools in our region.