He's been a familiar face in the business community. He's helped many local businesses open their doors for the first time. He's also helped them figure out innovative ways to improve their businesses. And at the end of April, Vince Fandel, director of the Small Business Development Center, will be retiring from his position.
Fandel started with Region 10 and the Small Business Development Center in 2010. Hailing from the financial world, he often jokes about being a "recovering banker."
One of Fandel's earliest accomplishments involved opening a satellite site of the SBDC office in Montrose. The program was originally housed in Gunnison, making it difficult for businesses in the more western counties of the region -- like Delta and Montrose -- to participate.
With the support from the state SBDC office, Region 10 was able to expand services to Delta and Montrose counties. In 2015, the office eventually expanded into serving San Miguel and Ouray counties.
In addition to expanding access to resources, Fandel was responsible for the efficient financial oversight of the Business Loan Fund, a lending mechanism designed to benefit business owners in economically challenged communities. The BLF is predominately bolstered by state and federal grants, but also partners with local financial institutions to provide "gap financing." Before Fandel's tenure, the BLF doled out a maximum of six loans in a year. It's currently doing four times the volume now.
Fandel worked tirelessly to develop a business-centric curriculum to expand the knowledge base of local entrepreneurs and business owners. He dedicated a significant amount of energy recruiting knowledgeable class facilitators, soliciting financial contributions, coordinating locations, and promoting the classes.
Playing the role of "matchmaker" was also in Fandel's wheelhouse. He developed a strong network of experienced business professionals to provide consultative services to fledgling businesses in need of advice and support. Service recipients have access to up to 10 free hours of business consulting through this SBDC program.