Two young Wiley students developed an idea for a future business and it was good enough to garner an inclusion in the top three teams in the High School Entrepreneur Fair in La Junta for their proposal, “Tractor and Farm Equipment Repair”. Harold Stewart, a sophomore at Wiley High School and senior, Antonio Lucero, attended the April 18th Prowers Economic Prosperity (PEP) meeting where they presented their business plan to the PEP board of directors. PEP Executive Director, Eric Depperschmidt, was one of the judges in the fair and invited the duo to make their presentation this past week. He explained the students were one of 40 participants. “The format was very similar to the tv program, “Shark Tank” in which the contestants explained their project to a panel of judges,” he explained. He added that the top ten teams were invited to another round of interviews before the final awards were presented.
Lucero told the board their equipment repair business, L & S, would serve southeast Colorado by traveling to the work site on a farm, saving time, money and down time for a farm or ranch. “Most diesel mechanics don’t do a lot of work on tractors and farm equipment,” Lucero stated. “It’s not their main focus and our business will work to save the farmer’s down time.” He said their operation would be on call 24/7 and would charge a basic service call fee, travel fees and a per hour fee for the repairs. “We estimated our start-up costs would be $58,000. We’d be based at a shop in La Junta and we’d purchase a vehicle to take us on our calls out in the field.” Stewart said his expertise would come from his career choice of business math while Lucero would provide the repairs. Lucero said he’s going to study in Denver to become a certified diesel mechanic, while Stewart, a sophomore, is taking additional courses in business math and finance to handle the bookkeeping end of the operation. They explained that while some large repair operations might book you two weeks out, they’ll be small and flexible enough to offer speedy repairs, day or night. Lucero said he has a background in farming and he and his future partner spoke to a number of farming operations in the area to see how well their business plan would be received.
Board member, Stephanie Gonzales, Executive Director of SECED, provided an update on a tax incentive program becoming available in Prowers County, called Jumpstart and said more details would become available to interested parties in the near future. Several updates were given on the roundtable meetings, including housing, retail merchandise, agriculture and services. Future meeting dates for the continuing sessions will be made available so new and interested parties can attend to gain some insight and offer their suggestions for economic development in each of these areas. The next PEP board meeting will be noon, Tuesday, May 2, at the Rodeway Cow Palace Inn.
By Russ Baldwin
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