Advocacy visits with Small Businesses in Boulder and Denver, CO

By John Hart, Region 8 Regional Advocate

On a recent trip to Colorado, a team of Advocacy attorneys and economists along with Chief Counsel Darryl L. DePriest and Region 8 Advocate John Hart toured several small businesses in Denver and Boulder to better understand the state economy and to meet small business owners.  Colorado has an incredibly diverse economy, not only in ethnic and gender make-up of small business ownership, but across a wide spectrum of industries.  This diversity of industries has helped insulate the state economy from national economic struggles and contributed to a unique culture of small business spirit.  Boulder, CO is a confluence of distinctive high technology operations, a nationally ranked university, and several federal research laboratories backstopped by a relaxed and creative ethos and like minded residents.



Office of Advocacy team members on a small business tour of Stratom. 

The Advocacy team had the opportunity to tour Stratom Inc., an advanced technologies and robotics manufacturer that specializes in specific high end robotics solution development for all branches of military use as well as private enterprise.  They offer a distinctive small business approach to advanced robotics manufacturing, being able to tap into local engineering talent at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and utilize innovative strategies and connections from the local community and research laboratories.

After a series of roundtables hosted by the Boulder chapter of the Small Business Development Center, the team met with the owner of Ku Cha Tea House and participated in a traditional tea ceremony prepared by the owner, Rong Liu.  Selling over 150 loose leaf teas, Ku Cha offers the service of ‘make your own blend’ combining many of the available teas as well as a traditional tea room to enjoy the atmosphere and culture that Ku Cha provides.  Liu described in detail the history of the teas themselves and the specific elements of preparing, pouring, and sharing the teas in the elaborate ceremony.  Started over a dozen years ago, the business has grown substantially from a small shop off street to a substantial storefront on the corner of the main mall.  Not only has her main store thrived, but she has opened another shop in Fort Collins, CO and plans to open several more.


Rong Liu (middle), owner of Ku Cha Tea House serving a traditional tea to Regulatory Economist Jonathan Porat (far left) and Chief Counsel Darryl L. DePriest (second from left). 

The following day, after an eventful series of roundtables, the team was able to tour another small business in downtown Denver, Maria Empanadas, an Argentinian empanada restaurant owned and operated by Lorena Cantrovici.  She started Maria Empanadas several years ago in a very small shop and grew her business through word of mouth and excellent food.  Much like Liu, she grew her business and moved to a prime location in a burgeoning neighborhood.  She continues to grow through offering exceptional culinary creations and relating to diverse cultural needs and interests, and has looked into expansion opportunities in other Denver neighborhoods.


(From Left) Owner of Maria Empanadas Lorena Cantrovici, Regional Advocate John Hart, Regulatory Economist Lindsay Scherber, Assistant Chief Counsels Dillon Taylor and Janis Reyes, Regulatory Economist Jonathan Porat, and Chief Counsel Darryl L. DePriest, enjoying a small business visit to Maria Empanadas. 

It is important for Advocacy to have its DC staff to travel into the field and see first-hand the small businesses to appreciate how they interact and operate in their respective communities and understand how particular federal regulations impact their ability to startup, grow, and thrive.

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