The Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) receives an annual appropriation from the legislature to provide entrepreneurial training through the LEADING EDGE program. This appropriation is administered by the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network (CSBDC).

LEADING EDGE delivers comprehensive training to businesses by providing entrepreneurs with a better understanding of starting and operating a small business. The program has courses geared to help both start-up and existing businesses in the areas of finance, marketing, management and more.

The program is offered statewide and over 3,000 businesses have participated in this intensive, specialized training series since the program’s inception in 1989. While a typical LEADING EDGE series meets once a week over 10-15 weeks, the series may differ in format from center to center, such as a five-day intensive bootcamp. The network also offers an online version of the training.

The purpose of the LEADING EDGE state grant is to provide SBDC centers with funds to help offset costs of holding the series and/or to provide scholarships to help defray student tuition fees.

What are the curriculums?

Currently, approved LEADING EDGE curriculums include:

All instructors must be certified to teach the respective curriculums (any exceptions must be discussed with the LEADING EDGE Program Administrator). To become certified as an instructor, contact the SBDC Center Director to get certified. Most courses are also available in Spanish.

What are the requirements for participants?

In order to be considered a LEADING EDGE graduate and receive a Certificate of Graduation, a participant must:

• Regularly attended classes (two or less unexcused absences)

• Receive at least two hours of consulting (may be substituted if the center holds roundtable forums for clients)

If a participant does not meet these requirements, he or she will receive a Certificate of Participation.

What are the center requirements to hold a LEADING EDGE series?

  • Collect tuition fees for the series (It is at each center’s discretion what it will charge for tuition fees and if it will provide scholarships and/or tuition reimbursements.)
  • Provide 36 hours of classroom-style training
  • Obtain guest speakers from the local business community for classes
  • Complete preliminary and final reports for the series
  • Brand all programs “LEADING EDGE” in capital letters and use the LEADING EDGE logos
  • If center logo is on a document, webpage, etc., the LEADING EDGE logo with the “C” may be used
  • If center logo is not on a document, webpage, etc, the LEADING EDGE logo with the full network logo must be used
  • Enter one event into Center IC with multiple sessions. Must track participants’ attendance in the “notes” section.
  • You are required to provide participants with the final LEADING EDGE Evaluation after last class. It is optional to use the Statewide Standard Training Evaluation after each class.

What are the requirements to teach or facilitate a LEADING EDGE series?

  • Instructors must be certified to teach or facilitate a LEADING EDGE program
  • Any instructor fee that exceeds $2,500 requires written approval by the Lead Center and must be accompanied by a preliminary budget which shows positive projected revenues after the additional instructor expenditures
  • SBDC staff may only be paid for teaching if the class is taught at night or on weekends

What are the center's reporting requirements?

Preliminary Report: due before the first class, including:

Final Report: due after the last class, including:

Track income:

  • State grant money: Create a new account or code for LEADING EDGE grant funds received from the state that can be easily tracked separately from other income. Grants received from the state must be recorded and tracked on the “LEADING EDGE Grant & Expenditures Report” under the Income Source line item “LEADING EDGE Grant.”
  • Training revenue and sponsorship dollars: Must be recorded and tracked on the “Program Income Report” under Income Source line item “LEADING EDGE Income (LEI)).”

Record expenses:

  • Expenses using LEADING EDGE grant funds from the state should be recorded and tracked on the “LEADING EDGE Grant & Expenditures Report” under the appropriate Expense Category line item. Every attempt should be made to spend down state grant funds before occurring LEADING EDGE expenses in program income.
  • Expenses using LEADING EDGE sponsorship money and tuition income should be recorded and tracked on the “Program Income Report” under the Expense Category line item “LEADING EDGE Expenses (LEE).”

Please note: Centers must also record the LEADING EDGE series in Center IC as a training event under the “Leading Edge” program. Centers should enter one event per series and track event attendance under the “Notes” section. Quarterly 888 reports for training events should include the Leading Edge 888s, the Center IC Attendee Reports and the standard statewide evaluations. These items would not be included in the reports listed above.

How are the grants distributed?

  • The Lead Center will request grant proposals from the centers in May-June each year.
  • Each center is eligible for at least one LEADING EDGE grant.
  • Centers will be notified as to how many grants it will receive in July.
  • Grants are disbursed after the Lead Center receives all required reports. Please note that grant checks will not be mailed until at least five hours of consulting per participant are recorded in Center IC)
  • If/when additional funds become available via fundraising or by a center opting out of their LEADING EDGE grant(s), a written proposal may be submitted to the Lead Center (unless otherwise instructed by the Lead Center) to potentially receive additional grant(s).

How would a center submit a proposal for a grant?

A proposal for LEADING EDGE state grant funds should include, unless instructed otherwise by the Lead Center,:

  • The name of the LEADING EDGE course and the statement of the goals and objectives for the course
  • Who from the local community will be involved in the class
  • Local sponsors and their commitments
  • Number of projected students in the class
  • Reasons why you think your center should get the grant money (i.e. service area, unique qualities of the class, number of participants, need for the class, etc.)
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