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Fort Lewis College receives $300K grant

Partnership with Telluride Foundation brings business know-how to students

A $300,000 grant was recently awarded to Fort Lewis College, which will use it to provide its physics and engineering graduates with business startup knowledge.

On Dec. 14, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade announced the grantees for the Advanced Industry Accelerator Grant Program, of which nearly $4.4 million was awarded to support the advance of Colorado industries.

FLC’s grant will be in partnership with the Telluride Foundation, a nonprofit that actively supports entrepreneurship in the region. FLC will use its half to buy scientific equipment, and the foundation will develop programming to help FLC faculty and graduates advance their business ideas.

“We are very exited to be working with TF to bring their expertise in entrepreneurship and business startups to the Senior Design Capstone course in our physics and engineering program,” said Doug Lyon, the college’s senior corporate and foundation officer.

“The benefit of this partnership is physics and engineering students will graduate out of FLC not only with the technological capability but with business startup knowledge.”

Paul Major, president and CEO of Telluride Foundation, said the organization focuses on helping young startups move companies along and develop business plans. By bringing that knowledge to the staff and students at FLC, it could launch a sort of industry revival in the region, he said.

“This is the first step to connect the Southwest corridor,” Major said. “Active entrepreneurship is critical for our region. It creates jobs and economic vitality.”

Major used Durango’s Mercury Payments as one of the great success stories in Colorado. Started by two local entrepreneurs, the company has grown to employ hundreds of staffers in Durango and Denver.

“What we need is multiple Mercury Payment-like companies starting up, and staying in the region,” Major said.

Though in its early stages, Major said the foundation will bring its business know-how skills to FLC faculty and students through mentorships, guest lectors, design reviews and other soon-to-be developed ideas.

“Durango has a bigger advantage than a place like Telluride,” Major said. “We know there’s a lot of talent faculty there that are starting businesses or could start businesses. If we line that up with the graduating students, they could do the same.”

jromeo@durangoherald.com

An earlier version of this story misstated Doug Lyon’s title.

Jan 20, 2022
Fort Lewis College joins prestigious group in grant
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