Western has welcomed two new faces to the campus, Keating and Beamer, who will help expand Western’s Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) program’s role in the community.
Returning to campus
After selling her business, she “took a sideline sabbatical/adventure into a totally different style of life and studied science in the human body,” Keating said.
She has a small medical practice, but it is not something she wants to do full time.
“When I would think about leaving [Gunnison] I was given more of an opportunity to stay,” Keating said.
It wasn’t until she met Gerrit McGowan, the executive director of ICELab, that she was on board.
“I’ve had that luxury to not sign up for something unless it interests me, and this was really interesting to me. Working with Gerrit was interesting, and there was an interesting set of challenges, and opportunities, and part of this bigger story of what it means to be in the parts of western Colorado that we represent, that I am very passionate about. It [the ICELab] sort of matched with who I am, my skill set and what I care about,” Keating said.
Keating also expressed her excitement about working with the students here at Western as well as with other faculty and staff members. She hopes that members of the Gunnison Valley come to the ICELab to have the opportunity to grow their businesses.
“We have a lot of initial energy and a lot of people who are here and they know they want to be here. They don’t totally know what that means yet. So, human engagement is our first major goal,” Keating said.
Building up the community
Beamer grew up in Portland, Oregon and attended a small liberal arts school in Prescott, Arizona to escape to the sunshine. She said she came to Crested Butte just for a visit, but had everything she owned with her and decided to stay.
“This is the first place that has probably felt like home, and I really love this valley,” Beamer said.
Beamer has been in the valley for about nine years and has worked with the Crested Butte Land Trust for seven years.
She says that her time working with the ICELab “has not been boring.”
“It’s been all over the place. One day we’ll be setting up furniture, and the next we are making invitations to start building partnerships and that type of work,” Beamer said.
Now, since construction has come to an end, Beamer and other staff members of the ICELab are beginning to settle down into their jobs and working to get the word out about all the features the ICELab has to offer to small businesses.
“For me a lot of that is making sure that this facility is running smoothly and humming along, and that people are getting to use and enjoy and play in this space in the way that they want. We have talked a lot about how to stay nimble and responsive to the community because this is about building a community of innovators and creative folks who want to explore and share ideas, and how can we best support that,” Beamer said.
The ICELab recently had their open house in February to showcase the newly renovated space.
“Our opening party was very successful. We had probably 300 folks come through here. It was really good to see the space filled up and to see people’s excitement about using this space,” Beamer said.
Beamer said her hopes for the ICELab are “that people are inspired by being here, and that people make connections that lead them to really exciting, magical new projects. I think when we talk about creativity we don’t always know what that means. I hope that this place is somewhere that inspires that in people, and that it really creates a community of entrepreneurs and spans the student community as well as the larger Gunnison Valley.”
The ICECafe will open early April and will have a coffee bar, local beers, wines and spirits, as well as different food options.
Events in the ICELab are already happening, and the space is available for anyone to book. Just contact Danielle Beamer at email@example.com for more information.
Story by Taya Olson.