The first year of business is typically the most challenging and risky. To help startup entrepreneurs and first-time business owners establish a strong footing, we launched the Kimco Entrepreneurs Year Start (KEYS) program a year ago as a pilot in California.

For those unfamiliar with the program, KEYS small business participants receive one year of free rent at a participating Kimco shopping center, as well as educational resources and other startup assistance, including business planning, site selection, and permitting. In the past year, numerous first-time business owners have gotten off the ground through the KEYS Program and several of these business owners have told their success stories on our blog.

With momentum growing, we’re now expanding KEYS to Colorado. Approved KEYS participants will receive all the program benefits, including free rent for a year at one of the participating Kimco-owned Colorado shopping centers, which total over 200 stores and 1.4 million square feet of retail space. These centers are located throughout Aurora, Colorado Springs, Englewood, and Lakewood.

To supplement this new venture, we have partnered with the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network’s Leading Edge program to provide business training scholarships to first-time business owners. Leading Edge is a 12- to 15-week program and offers comprehensive training to entrepreneurs on starting and operating a small business. By applying and being accepted to Leading Edge through Kimco KEYS, scholarship recipients will be reimbursed for 75 percent of their Leading Edge tuition fee.

Expanding the KEYS program into Colorado was a natural next step in the overall growth of our program, for a few reasons. First, we were impressed with the size and strength of Colorado’s SBDC program. Its intensive course and support system seemed like a great fit with our Colorado portfolio of shopping centers. Similar to California, our Colorado portfolio has an extensive small shop space composition, ideal for start-up entrepreneurs.

Small business is also doing very well in Colorado. The state has a friendly small business atmosphere, with many cities and counties offering start-up business incentives and promotion programs. Some specific statistics on small business in Colorado include:

To apply to the KEYS program, small business owners should have adequate funding; a business plan with specific goals; and a certificate, endorsement, or letter of completion verifying entrepreneurial classes from the SBDC , a business association, college, or university. You can take a look at the available spaces and learn more about KEYS on our website.

We’re excited to continue growing KEYS and help more first-time business owners turn their retail ideas into reality. As more success stories unfold, we might reach out to you to share it on our blog. And, if you’re already a KEYS participant, we’d love to hear how you’re doing.

  • CATEGORY: General
  • DATE: Thursday, June 13, 2013