Opportunities are hatching in Goshen County. Through its incubator program, Goshen County Economic Development is taking entrepreneurs under its wing in order to help them fly on their own.
Wendy George is one of them.
She’d been trying to find an office space for her new counseling practice, Wyoming Winds Counseling LLC, and hadn’t had much luck. The office spaces she’d looked at were either too expensive or weren’t the right fit.
She and her husband, Tony, were driving past the Goshen Enterprise Center when she spotted a sign indicating that there were offices for rent in the building.
“I said, ‘The building is really nice, it’s going to be way too expensive’,” George said.
She sent her husband inside to get the details and shortly after, he was telling her he needed to come in.
“I walked in and Sandy Hoehn and Lisa Miller said, ‘Hey, you’re an entrepreneur and that’s what we specialize in,” she said. “It almost seemed too good to be true.”
It’s not, though.
“We have four incubator spaces,” Lisa Miller, CEO of GCED, said.
Those spaces are inside the Goshen Enterprise Center in Torrington. They offer a professional environment at a significantly reduced cost for entrepreneurs trying to succeed, whether they’re starting from the ground up or preparing to move a business out of their home.
Soon, George would occupy one of those spaces. Now, she’s outgrown it.
“I built up my clientele until I got so busy that I said, ‘I think I can fly,’” she said. “We’ve purchased a building and I’m getting ready to hire another therapist because I’m so busy.”
She credits her success to GCED, saying the biggest benefit of being in the incubator was the sense of empowerment that GCED gave her.
“She was afraid to quit her job,” said Sandy Hoehn, GCED community development director. “You know, starting a business can be really scary.”
George admits that she was afraid of a lot of things.
“They helped me have courage,” she said. “I was very nervous. I was very shy. I was very awkward. I didn’t want to put myself out there.”
GCED also helped her with logo design, business cards, her website, social media promotions and nearly everything else George needed to grow. They even helped her apply for grants to attend a business boot camp.
“From the very beginning, we’re there helping them, holding their hands, being a counselor or a cheerleader or really whatever they need,” Hoehn said.
In addition to helping with the general marketing needs of businesses and formulating advertising plans, GCED helps promote businesses through a weekly newsletter that reaches thousands and on a weekly radio show, among other channels.
“We provide business owners with all kinds of services,” Miller said. “We put them in touch with people who can help them in different areas, like Quickbooks or HR issues. We try to connect the dots from a to z.”
The cost? Just pay the annual GCED dues.
“The effort you put into it, they put into it beside you,” George said. “They celebrate right alongside you and if it gets overwhelming and you’re not sure you can do it, they’ll tell you it’s going to be okay and you can.”
For Samantha Yung, the need for the incubator was a little bit different.
“Most businesses in the incubator are just starting out, but for us, it was about expansion,” Yung said.
Yung is an audiologist or someone who helps diagnosis, treat, and prevent hearing loss. She works for Brant Audiology, which has multiple permanent practices and satellite clinics in Wyoming and western Nebraska.
One of those satellite clinics was in Torrington. One a month, Yung and other staff members would work with patients in Torrington, but for Yung, it wasn’t enough.
“The main reason for being in the incubator was to see if we could sustain a permanent clinic here,” Yung said. “Since I’m from this area and since I live here, I wanted to increase our patient load and revenue and sustain a physical location.”
Being part of the incubator allowed Yung to see patients eight times a month instead of one. The practice has been doing well since 2016, when she began working with GCED.
“It was an experiment that allowed me to prove we could do it here in Torrington,” she said. “After a year, we knew we’d be able to move into a new location and sustain it there. We’ve been steadily busy for almost four years. I’m really proud of that.”
Both women encourage potential business owners or current ones who want to expand into an office space, to reach out to GCED.
“I would say, 100 percent do it,” Yung said. “The facility is really nice, first of all. If you have patients or clients or whatever, it’s a really nice, professional location.”
George agreed, saying she was beyond grateful to find a professional, quiet space where she could meet with her clients.
“Definitely check it out,” George said. “Talk to them. The incubator program helped me grow. It’s been nothing but a blessing.”