NATURITA – Visitors to the Paradox Valley can soon purchase organic produce, locally made specialty items, groceries, plus ice cream and cold drinks at the newly restored historic Paradox Mercantile. Customers can also purchase Paradox Produce’s farm-fresh vegetables, honey and other regional products through its Community Supported Agriculture program and at local farmers markets, including those in Norwood and Moab.
With the help of a recent Paradox Community Trust loan to purchase refrigeration and irrigation equipment, the Paradox Produce Company, owned by Greg Spaulding and Marty Warner, is expanding its agricultural business and returning a valuable retail business to the Paradox economy. The Paradox Community Development Initiative is a new program of the PCT and the Telluride Foundation. The initiative’s goal is to help grow the local economy by making available critical resources to start-up, emerging and small businesses within the Paradox Basin.
The Paradox Basin consists of the western portions of San Miguel, Montrose, Dolores and Montezuma counties, including the communities of Dove Creek, Egnar, Naturita, Norwood, Nucla, Paradox, Redvale and Rico. While many of these communities are currently experiencing economic hardship, the Paradox Basin has a rich history of enterprising homesteaders, ranchers, miners, and small business owners, as well as abundant natural assets that this initiative hopes to leverage. The initiative is made possible by a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise Grant, received by the Telluride Foundation on behalf of the PCT.
There are two components to the initiative: a revolving loan fund (up to $20,000 per company) and professional business and technical assistance provided by industry experts. Interested businesses have the option to apply for a loan plus the professional business and technical assistance or for only the assistance. Services that might be included in the professional business and technical assistance are: feasibility studies, business planning, market analysis, social enterprise modeling, financial projections, and/or other needs as suggested by applying organizations.
“Through this initiative we were able to receive technical assistance from the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction, which helped us solidify our business plan and financial model,” said Greg Spaulding, co-owner of Paradox Produce Company. “A small, low-interest loan is extremely helpful in today’s economic climate where there is limited capital for small rural businesses.”
The first round of applications for the Paradox Community Development Initiative was reviewed by a committee made up of Paul Major, president of the Telluride Foundation; Andrew Karow, President of Alpine Bank; and Tricia Maxon, southwestern regional president of Community Banks of Colorado. The Foundation also contracted with Durango’s Region 9 Economic Development Department to package the loan applications and service the loans.
“Our loan review committee was impressed by Paradox Produce’s application,” said Major. “Greg and Marty are exactly the entrepreneurs this initiative is designed for – dedicated to their local Paradox community, hard working, and willing to spend six months with a business consultant to ensure their success.”
In 2009, the Foundation convened public and private sector leaders to establish the Paradox Community Trust (PCT), to create a permanent revenue stream for the communities of the Paradox Basin impacted by oil, gas and mineral extraction. The PCT is a new way of moderating the inevitable boom and bust cycles of resource extraction by creating a permanent investment fund of oil, gas and mining severance revenues, foundation grants, corporate charitable contributions and estate planned giving. The PCT is governed by a regional board that uses the principal interest from the permanent fund to foster community improvement, economic development and to build local generational human capital. The PCT was recently recognized by the White House Rural Council.
For more information on the Paradox Community Trust, visit Telluride Foundation’s website at www.telluridefoundation.org and click under the “initiative” tab.