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Central Mountain Entrepreneurs Sets Ascent Launch Party for January 19 – by Jan Wondra

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Central Mountain Entrepreneurs has set its 2023 Ascent Launch Party for Thursday, December 19 at the Salida SteamPlant. The Welcome Reception begins at 4:00 p.m. and the Launch Party starts at 5:00 p.m. The event will feature Icelantic Skis’ Co-Founder and CEO, Annelise Loevlie; introduce the 2023 cohort of business participants, and highlight three key speakers sharing their business startup stories.

Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation Entrepreneurs program. Courtesy logo

Pre-event publicity provides a few highlights of the three featured speakers. One of the key themes of this year’s Ascent Launch Party is the power of entrepreneurs to help shape their communities.

Mike Harvey — Few local founders more perfectly demonstrate this concept than the founder of Badfish SUP.

Mike moved to the Upper Arkansas River Valley in 1993 at age 18, just six days after graduating from high
school. He came to the Ark Valley to work as a guide and he fell in love with not just guiding, but whitewater kayaking specifically. In the process, he fell hard for the Ark Valley itself.

Mike co-founded Badfish SUP, a Salida-based company that manufactures and sells industry leading standup paddleboards, pioneering in one of the fastest growing river sports segments in recent years. To top it off, Mike and his team have supported–and inspired–the creation of the hot new outdoor trend of river surfing, and since 2000 he has been a pioneering whitewater park designer.

Image courtesy of Sarah Gartzman.

Rob and Sarah Gartzman  —the husband and wife team of local entrepreneurs and business leaders has built Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop and The Biker & The Baker from the ground up. As special Startup Story guests at the Ascent Launch Party on January 19, they’ll share insights from their “sweet” journey, their experience as part of the 2022 Ascent cohort and update attendees on their newest venture “Hey Sweetie!”

Carlin Walsh — The founder of Elevation Beer Company, will also share his startup story at our Ascent Launch Event. Moving from beer to broadband, he was also recently named CEO of Colorado Central Telecom, and has been an Executive Board Member of Chaffee County EDC since 2013.

The event features food, drinks and live music by David Lawrence and the Spoonful Trio. Tickets are available at

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