Sweetwater County Innovation Launchpad provides opportunities for local entrepreneurs 

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Wyo4news Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — The first Sweetwater County Innovation Launchpad will be taking applications from entrepreneurs from April 4 to May 20.  Innovative and scalable startups, as well as early-stage companies which have high potential to impact Wyoming’s economic ecosystems, are encouraged to apply at https://impact307.org/sweetwater-challenge/.  IMPACT Sweetwater will provide valuable mentorship to the finalists, helping them prepare for a Pitch Day Competition in September.  The winning finalists will receive seed funding, tied to milestones, to help start their businesses.  IMPACT Sweetwater will continue to mentor the winners as they launch their new businesses. 

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IMPACT Sweetwater is a collaboration between the University of Wyoming’s IMPACT 307 and Western Wyoming Community College.  Fred Schmechel, Interim Director of IMPACT 307, commented that “IMPACT 307 has helped 210 businesses launch during its history.  The majority of those businesses have been in the past 5 years from regional startup challenges.  We are excited to partner with Western Wyoming Community College to start a new regional startup challenge in Sweetwater County.”  Before this year, regional challenges were at UW, Casper, Sheridan, Wind River Reservation, and Southeast Wyoming.  A new regional startup challenge has recently started in Fremont County. 

IMPACT 307 received a $2.4million Economic Development Association (EDA) grant to expand programming across the state. Expanded programming will double the number of regional startup challenges across the state, along with increasing staffing for IMPACT 307.  Seed funding for the startup challenges is raised and held locally by community partners external to IMPACT 307. The Sweetwater County Innovation Launchpad seed fund is being raised by Amy Murphy of Western Wyoming Community College and Rick Lee of the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce.   

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According to Amy Murphy, Western’s Dean of Outreach and Workforce Development, the opportunity provided by the Sweetwater County Innovation Launchpad is truly a valuable program for the community. “Sweetwater’s IMPACT 307 is here to help innovative entrepreneurs. We hope that individuals looking to take their ideas and turn them into reality will participate in this challenge and utilize the expertise of IMPACT 307,” states Murphy. Our existing businesses have the opportunity to provide donations to ensure the challenge raises the seed funding needed to be successful in assisting entrepreneurs reach their dreams and become successful in launching their business.  Their success creates economic growth and jobs for our community.”  

Applicants are encouraged to reach out to IMPACT Sweetwater for guidance during the application process.  They can reach Monica Patten, Assistant Director – IMPACT 307, at [email protected], or by cell at 307-466-3963. 

Events that will help applicants prepare for the competition are coming up in April and May.  While these free events are not mandatory for applicants, they could help guide teams to create more successful applications.  Question and Answer sessions will be held by Monica Patten and entrepreneurs who have worked with IMPACT 307.   Entrepreneurs include Ty Nieters, CEO of Simply LLC; Brian Deurloo, President/Founder of Frog Creek Partners; and Berney Bradley of InsurXcel.  A boot camp for entrepreneurs called START 307 is held once a quarter by IMPACT 307.  Lunch and Learns are held on a regular basis from IMPACT 307.  These events can be found on the SCIL application webpage at https://impact307.org/sweetwater-challenge/

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