Incubator director offers an example of ability to adapt

Chris Reddin
Chris Reddin

Women in business often have to adapt. From changing jobs to going back to school to moving across the country for an opportunity, such women offer examples of the advantages of growing and changing with the times.

Chris Reddin serves as one of those examples in the Grand Valley.

The executive director of the  Business Incubator Center worked as operations manager for D.T. Swiss in Grand Junction, headed to New York State to earn a master’s in business administration degree from Cornell University,  returned to the Grand Valley to become chief finance officer for Mountain Sprouts and then assumed her leadership role at the Incubator Center in Grand Junction in early 2007.

“I’ve wanted this job since I found out about the incubator in 1999,” Reddin said. “It’s incredibly rewarding to help people build their businesses.”

Reddin became familiar with the Business Incubator Center when she took a Leading Edge business planning class. That’s when she made a discovery. “There’s a gap between the academic side of business and the practical side,” she said. “It’s a lot more than what you learn in the classroom.”

Reddin, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., worked with Mountain Sprouts when the children’s outdoor clothing company was a tenant at the incubator. Mountain Sprouts left the facility in 2006.

That makes Reddin familiar with the organization that now houses 50 businesses trying to make their way during a challenging economy.

Most of those businesses are owned by men, but Reddin said there are many women in leadership roles in business in Mesa County. They include Ann Driggers, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership; Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce; Heidi Hoffman Ham, director of the Downtown Development Authority Director in Grand Junction; and Mary Lou Wilson, executive director of the Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a good time to be a woman in business,”  Reddin said.

The Business Incubator provides assistance to women — and men — considering starting their own businesses. In addition to providing space, telephones and office equipment, the center operates  a revolving business loan fund.

A Small Business Development Center onsite offers counseling and low-cost classes exploring a variety of topics related to starting and operating businesses. “We’re a relationship-based community,” said Reddin.