Business Incubator Center director resigns to return to entrepreneurial roots

Chris Reddin
Chris Reddin

A woman who left the private sector to oversee the operation of the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction expects to soon return to her entrepreneurial roots.

Chris Reddin announced her resignation as executive director of the center effective Aug. 5, ending nearly five years at what she once described as her dream job of helping small business owners develop their ventures.

In a telephone interview with the Business Times, Reddin said she expects to remain in the Grand Valley and return to the private sector in some capacity. “My heart’s in the private sector. I’d like to be an entrepreneur.”

Reddin said she’ll assist the center board of directors to find as well as train and support a successor. While the board could tap into a national network of business incubation programs, Reddin expects the search to start on a local level.

Susan Corle, a Grand Junction attorney who serves as chairwoman of the center board, told the Business Times a search committee already has been formed, but the task won’t be easy. “It’s going to be hard to replace Chris.”

Corle described Reddin as a “dynamic” director who adapted quickly and creatively to changing economic circumstances. “This is a big loss to our organization.”

Reddin was hired as director of the Business Incubator Center in December 2006, a position she considered an ideal fit given her experiences and interests. “It’s my dream job.”

She succeeded Thea Chase, who oversaw the center for 14 years.

Before joining the center, Reddin worked for about three years as general manager of Mountain Sprouts, an outerwear manufacturer that was once a tenant of the business incubation program at the center.

She also worked for other companies, including the DT Swiss bicycle component manufacturer in Grand Junction. She helped opened the facility, start operations and find new distribution channels for its products.

Reddin holds a master’s degree in business administration from Cornell University, where she helped found an incubator program to turn business ideas into viable operations suitable for investment funding.

During her tenure at the Business Incubator Center, Reddin experienced both boom and bust as a fast-growing Grand Valley economy slowed in the aftermath of a downturn in natural gas development in the region and a global recession.

Activity at the center increased to record levels as people who lost their jobs sought assistance in starting their own businesses. The center offers free and low-cost business counseling and workshops as well as low-cost space and financing through a revolving loan program.

Reddin said she’s most proud of her efforts to run the center like a business in developing new services and programs to better meet the needs of clients — in particular the use of social media to connect clients to those services and programs.

At the same time, though, there’s more for the center to do, especially in helping existing businesses expand their operations, she said. “There’s tons. There’s always so much more we can do.”

As for her own efforts, Reddin said she plans to continue a pursuit she called “economic gardening” in helping established businesses expand with new products and markets.

Reddin also expects to remain involved in some way in the Business Incubator Center and other business development activities “I definitely plan to stay active in the community.”