GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Doug Sorter helps operate a few small businesses in Grand Junction. Uniquely Yours sells clothes and snacks, along with beautiful art pieces created by the store’s employees. Alida’s Fruits sells food products made from local fruits.
“It takes a lot of work and a lot of time and a lot of effort to make these businesses work,” says Sorter.
But there’s something special about the business model. Alida’s Fruits and Uniquely Yours give job opportunities to people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities, and the profits of their sales go to Strive, a non-profit that supports folks with disabilities and their families.
“It’s a social impact business. So we’re looking at it to find those extra revenue streams so we don’t have to rely on the government. We can provide jobs for our individuals so they beocome tax payers,” says Sorter.
Experts say starting and operating a small business takes a lot of work, creativity, and sometimes taking risks.
“At a very base level you need 3 things. Something to sell, someone to buy it, and a way to get paid,” explains Jon Maraschin, the Executive Director at the Business Incubator Center.
But the pay off of being your own boss and creating jobs for the community, can be rewarding.
“If you just want to own and create your own destiny, you can start a small business to do that…. Or there are people with good ideas for a business, who can grow it and employ others,” says Maraschin.
For sorter, that’s especially true.
“It’s just very fulfilling to have a small business that’s operating in our community and it’s giving us a chance to show and demonstrate the great things folks with developmental disabilities can do,” says Maraschin.