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Innovate Colorado Springs: An Ode to Joe

Thom Ruhe on April 21, 2014 Source: e360 Blog

Last week was busy--to say the least. Several of the Kauffman Entrepreneurship Team members were in Colorado Springs for Innovate Colorado Springs, a week of events uniting the region around its innovative and entrepreneurial potential.

The week brought together a diverse group of academics, economic development professionals, policy makers, investors, and citizens who share a desire to prove to themselves and the nation that Colorado Springs has a rich offering of regional assets to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

ColoradoSprings_InnovateA large part of the activities were driven by Pikes Peak Community College; specifically by the leadership of Dr. Lance Bolton and Bree Langemo. The centerpiece of their activities was the instruction and certification of approximately 45 faculty members to become Ice House Entrepreneurship Program facilitators. PPCC will be the first community college in the country to implement the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program as a general education requirement this fall.

The week also included sessions and participation by the USPTO, Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Colorado University, the Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs Technology Incubator, Peak Venture Group, Epicentral Coworking space and others.

My friend and colleague Nate Olson was also given an opportunity to discuss the virtues in building entrepreneurial communities and lessons we have learned throughout the expansion of our 1MC program. Just before heading to the airport, Bree afforded me the opportunity to offer parting thoughts. Naturally I thanked her and congratulated PPCC for having such a significant role in organizing this fantastic week of events, and for choosing to give students at the college the gift of an entrepreneurial mindset by way of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program.

InnovateColoradoSprings_ThomIt wasn’t until I was on the plane home that I realized I forgot to recognize a specific person – a patriarch of Colorado Springs – without whom none of us would have likely been in the Springs in the first place.

Joe Woodford is a gentleman of experience and great entrepreneurial accomplishment. As a founder of Woodford Manufacturing, Joe has for decades successfully navigated the ever-changing winds of the economy and expressed his personal values through his business acumen. The reason I wanted to use this forum to acknowledge Mr. Woodford is that he was the catalyst for bringing Kauffman and our programs to Colorado Springs. It was Joe that first identified with the potential of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program. And it was Joe that enabled a delegation from Pikes Peak Community College to travel to Kansas City to learn how this program is redefining entrepreneurship education and community engagement.

With the company and foundation that bears his name, Joe promotes a practice of profit sharing that stipulates:

“Sharing 25-50 percent of enterprise profits would engage all employees in maximizing profitability, significantly improve organization harmony and productivity, and over time the widespread growth in individual prosperity and wealth would greatly reduce the need for government welfare programs.”

The practice of sharing the rewards of a business with those who help create it is consistent with the practice that Mr. Kauffman imbued, a thought process that has created a more engaged and productive workforce and community.

As the next chapter of the economic history of the region is written, there will be many people to thank as it will require a genuine team effort. In particular though, Joe Woodford deserves thanks for recognizing the need to think differently, and the support to do it.

Tags:  Innovate Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Entrepreneurship Team, region potential, fostering innovation, Pikes Peak Community College, Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, 1 Million Cups, Nate Olson, Joe Woodford, Woodford Manufacturing,

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