Familiar face in new place a boost for business

The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are coming together.

That is, if selecting the leaders of the Grand Valley organizations that serve businesses and promote economic and work force development could be considered a metaphorical puzzle.

The latest piece to fall into place? The selection of Curtis Englehart as executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Still other pieces soon will be added, including a new leader at the Business Incubator Center and a successor to Diane Schwenke, who’s retiring after nearly 35 years as president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Yet another piece is in place with Jeff Engell as the new director of the Small Business Development Center in Grand Junction.

On a larger geographical scale, Aikta Marcoulier was appointed in April as the new administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Region VIII. She oversees the programs and services of the federal agency in Colorado and five other states.

All the choices are critical, no less important than the organizations they lead and programs and services they offer businesses.

Englehart constitutes an excellent choice, one that’s likely to pay dividends for a long time.

While he’s taking on a new role with a different organization, he brings to the position the skills, experiences and relationships he developed over the past five years as director of the Mesa County Workforce Center. He’s worked with GJEP as a partner on economic development efforts. He knows how to work with businesses and meet their needs. And as someone who’s grown up and worked his entire career in Western Colorado, he’s familiar with the region. 

Karen Troester, chairwoman of the GJEP board of directors, praised Englehart this way:  “He’s well-known, well-liked and, most importantly, well-respected in the state.”

As Englehart put it, economic development and work force development go hand in hand. Businesses can’t relocate or expand their operations without a skilled work force. No one’s more familiar with work force development in Mesa County than Englehart.

Of course, GJEP’s gain is the Mesa County Workforce Center’s loss. Hopefully, a successor soon will be found to build on Englehart’s efforts there.

Like Englehart, Engell brings to his new position practical skills and experiences. In Engell’s case, he worked as a business coach at the East Colorado SBDC in Greeley. He also worked more than 10 years as the owner and operator of a global consulting firm helping businesses and governments around the world on various economic development initiatives.

Before her appointment to the SBA, Marcoulier similarly served businesses and business owners as executive director of the Pikes Peak SBDC in Colorado Springs. She worked in that role for more than 10 years, winning awards for her excellence and innovation. 

Now it’s a matter of finding a few more of the right pieces to fit into the puzzle and complete the picture of an effective partnership of organizations and agencies that serve businesses.