Local Entrepreneurs Get Started With SUU Startup Resources

Published: October 18, 2023 | Author: Susie Knudsen | Read Time: 4 minutes

SUU Startup is pleased to recognize several local entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of resources available to business owners in Iron County, including Brandon Burke and Tamera Merkley, owners of Intermountain Performing Arts Center (IMPAC), Chelsea Durand, CEO of Yummy Tummy Sweets Bakery and Lee Black, CEO of EcoDripper. These individuals accessed counseling at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and participated in the Cedar City Business & Innovation Center’s (CCBIC) startup accelerator, “The Hive,” a six-month, intensive program designed to help new businesses successfully launch.

As per The Hive program requirements, these businesses had to commit to their startups for 20 hours a week and attend weekly and monthly networking events. In return for their commitment, the CCBIC offered to provide mentorship from multiple sources around the community, access to conference rooms, studios, makerspace facilities and seed-funding opportunities.Entrepreneurs from the most recent cohort were asked about their experiences in The Hive program as well as their thoughts about using the resources provided to them. Personalized mentorship, networking and marketing support were what they found most helpful.


Those who go to the CCBIC and are interested in utilizing the provided resources are paired up with mentors and interns who can help ideas and dreams turn into reality.

“I was raised by my grandmother, she loved growing plants and I do too, and I had this idea for a dripper system for plants,” said Black. “I sat down and drew up the prototype and built it out of plexiglass and hot melt glue. Then, I went to the CCBIC for help. They took me to the 3D printing guy, one of the students at the college, and we started designing it on the computer. After about 14 different tries, we got something that started working and it’s been developing ever since.”

Mentors also help entrepreneurs fill out small business loan and patent applications, which can be daunting for a lot of people.

“I got a lot of help from Joni at the SBDC with getting my small business loan approved, figuring out what my projections would be for the next five years, what my expenses would be and more,” said Durand. “There’s so much paperwork that goes into those and for someone that’s never done anything like that, trying to do all that by yourself feels impossible. It was extremely helpful and without her, I wouldn't have gotten the loan and I wouldn't have my business.”


Participants in The Hive Accelerator program have the opportunity to meet during weekly meetings to collaborate and help each other with challenges or opportunities that each of them have experienced setting up their business. They also have the opportunity to attend monthly Innovation Talks held every four to six weeks given by established business owners.

“Seeing folks who have really advanced in their business startup process and hearing them tell their journey along the way and how they have been successful is really helpful,” said Burke. “But, they also take time outside of that talk to sit down and meet with us one-on-one and answer our questions, respond to some of the challenges that we have and them going ‘Yeah we were there too,’ and that’s been really great to work with people who are much further along than we are.”


Utilizing the design studio for marketing purposes was an extremely useful tool for extremely busy business owners. Durand mentioned that the interns came to her bakery to take professional photos of the space to put on her website. She also praised the interns willing to help them out with their marketing.

“It’s not something that you think about when you step in to start a business, you think, ‘Oh we’re gonna teach and help kids and we’re going to help improve the arts scene here in Cedar City and we’re going to do all these big things,” said Burke. “That’s why you get into business because that’s what you’re passionate about and you forget about all of the business side of things. And I think we run into the problem of trying to get the word out for our new business and the CCBIC has been really helpful in giving us ideas for how to get the word out, really helpful in supporting us by coming here and getting photos of our space, getting photos of our classes, our rehearsals, our shows that we do here and helping us have some resources to use them so that we don’t have to think about all of that in addition to what we want to do.”

The Cedar City Business and Innovation Center launched in November 2021 to help local startups and small businesses grow and succeed during their challenging early years. The center has programming and resources for accelerated and extended business launches and includes a clean makerspace, studio, prototyping room, workspaces and a conference room, as well as professional mentorship for clients. To find out more about the center, visit InnovationCenter.cc.

SUU Startup is an information hub launched to provide an easy-access starting point and connection center for boosting and aligning resources, pitch competitions and business-minded people in Iron County. It partners with the Cedar City Business & Innovation Center and SUU Entrepreneurship Center to support community businesses and workforce development initiatives. More information about SUU Startup can be found at suu.edu/startup.

Tags: Entrepreneurship Startup Community and Professional Development

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