Summit, Inc: Silverthorne grant program boosts local businesses |

Summit, Inc: Silverthorne grant program boosts local businesses

Arrays of solar panels like silver, subterranean periscopes poking their metallic heads out from the earth fill a small wooden corral at North Pond Park in Silverthorne.

The solar garden’s panels, which incorporate new technology, were designed and built by Sulas Solar Industries, a start-up renewable energy company created by Silverthorne resident Fin Doyle.

Doyle’s design causes the panels to follow the light of the sun throughout the day, just like sunflowers, without the aid of computers. The breakthrough technology has attracted the attention of elected officials. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, will visit the solar garden at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6.

The solar garden was made possible by a small-business grant awarded by the town of Silverthorne. Sulas Solar was one of six local businesses to receive a grant.

A total of $40,000 was distributed this year. Now in its third year, the program has awarded grants to 19 local businesses.

“The business grant program is a very efficient and direct way for the town to help Silverthorne businesses grow and improve their visibility and facilities,” said Silverthorne Mayor Bruce Butler. “The $40,000 in grant funding awarded this year complements the $124,000 in additional private investment these business owners have committed to improving their businesses. The town council is committed to fostering these types of public-private partnerships.”

Five other businesses qualified for the 2014 business grant program:

Alpine Paint, for architectural upgrades at 795 Blue River Parkway

Family and Intercultural Resource Center, for landscaping improvements at 251 Fourth St.

The Baker’s Brewery, for architectural upgrades at 531 Silverthorne Lane

Elks Lodge, for signage improvements at 1321 Blue River Parkway

JH Mountain Auto, for architectural upgrades at 205 Warren Ave.

Silverthorne’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) reviews all applicants and holds multiple review meetings before providing recommendations to town council.

“We have to thank the town council for their continued commitment to the business grant program,” said EDAC chairman Eddie O-Brien. “They see the direct relationship between the economic success of our local business community and the town’s ability to provide quality municipal services to the community, and that’s why this program is really a win-win.”

The program is a great example of how just a small investment of funds by town government can really help improve the overall quality of a community. Appearances matter.

Speaking of appearances …

The Whole Foods Market shopping center in Frisco is continuing to fill up. In September, Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant will open its seventh location, next to Whole Foods. It’s the first time in a decade the restaurant has added a new location.

“The Rio’s expansion is largely spurred by demand from the local community,” said Rio CEO Jason Barrett in a news release. “We have a strong base of Rio loyalists in Summit County and are looking forward to bringing a sense of vibrancy, variety and Colorado tradition to this growing community.”

Rio Grande was founded 28 years ago and has locations in Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, Greeley, Park Meadows and Steamboat Springs.

More to follow …

Rio Grande will be the first of several new businesses to pop up in the area. The second phase of Whole Foods shopping center is expected to begin this fall. If all is approved, it will feature two additional buildings of commercial space at the property.

And across town, construction is expected to begin soon at another new commercial lot to be located in what is informally known as the “Christmas tree lot.”

It’s interesting that all the new development is coinciding with what might prove to be the most successful year in High Country tourism. The increased tourism and flurry of construction shows increased consumer confidence and might be a good indicator the recession is finally in the past.

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