The funds were awarded as a Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. POWER grants are dedicated to economic revitalization and workforce training in coal communities.
“The ICEHouse will work to diversify the region and reinvigorate growth by connecting the community with new business opportunities and jobs. We are thrilled that they are receiving this investment that will spur development and help these communities strengthen their economies,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) said.
Over the next three years, the grant will support the operational expenses of the ICEHouse, an innovation lab for campus and community entrepreneurs opening in January 2017. The funds will also be leveraged to attract angel network and venture capitalist investments through a partnership with the Global Accelerator Network.
The ultimate goal is to increase median income and to diversify the Gunnison Valley economy beyond the coal and hospitality industries.
“This creates an exciting opportunity to grow our local economy by supporting existing businesses as well as budding startups in the region,” said Julie Feier, Western’s chief financial officer and vice president of finance and administration. “The goal being to increase median income through an increase in the number of living-wage career opportunities in the region.”