Estes Institute holds promise for big things to happen

By: Steve Monday October 15, 2012 0 comments Tags: Aspen Institute, Estes Park, Estes Valley Library, investors, John Cullen, Kelly Manning, NCEDC, SBDC, Stanley Hotel, Walt Elish


Move over, Aspen Institute.

There's a new place in Colorado for gathering great minds to talk about the big issues of the day, and it's in just as beautiful a setting as the venerable Aspen Institute.

Organizers are putting together the Estes Institute for Innovation in Estes Park, the crown jewel of Larimer County when it comes to a spectacular setting.

The Institute will be located in the historic Stanley Hotel with the blessing of its generous owner, John Cullen.

Cullen, along with Walt Elish, CEO of the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp., had a vision to make the hotel a place where business experts, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors could come together and learn from each other.

And hopefully help startup entrepreneurs launch a new product into the marketplace or enlighten existing companies about new ways to do business -- creating new jobs and new economic vitality for the state.

Others have picked up the ball and joined in the effort to create the Institute, including the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network.

"We're looking for new companies that are on the cusp and we can help get over that hump," says Kelly Manning, SBDC director. "And we'd like to help our Colorado companies stay in Colorado."

Manning notes that the Institute's focus will be two-fold: Helping the state's economic sectors through the insight of renowned speakers, and also connecting startups with investors looking for the Next Big Thing.

"Pitching to investors will also be part of the Institute," she says. "We're trying to promote more national investors to Colorado, not just Colorado investors."

SBDC is one of the Institute's prime sponsors at this point, along with the Stanley Hotel and the EstesValley Library.

Elish says NCEDC is also a strong proponent of the Institute. "Anything we can do to bring positive attention to Larimer County we want to be part of," he said.

The first conference at the Estes Institute will be held next spring. Topic and date have not yet been announced. For more information, visit

We see the creation of the Estes Institute for Innovation as a wonderful addition to Colorado's growing innovation and entrepreneurial landscape and particularly welcome in Northern Colorado.

What a gorgeous place to attract great minds and do great things for the region and the state.

Congratulations to the organizers, and good luck in getting the ball rolling.


About the Author: Steve