Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Black Forest's small businesses urged to keep on keeping on

By Suzanne Evans suzanne.evans@gazette.com - Updated: July 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Susan Putnam Redden Wilson didn't lose her bed and breakfast to the Black Forest fire, and she wasn't harmed, but the blaze hurt her just the same.

"I have survivor's guilt," said Wilson, a longtime Black Forest resident. "We were in the voluntary evacuation zone, so we did have to evacuate for a couple days, but other than that, just our hearts are broken for our neighbors."

Her Black Forest Bed and Breakfast is typical of the businesses that were affected by the June fire: small operations, many of them home-based. It's a different situation from last year's Waldo Canyon fire, which affected about 8,000 businesses, many along the busy Garden of the Gods Road corridor. But no brick-and-mortar operations burned in that fire.

"The physical loss for (Black Forest) businesses is much greater than Waldo just because of the number of home-based businesses out there," said Aikta Marcoulier, director of the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center. "Not only did they lose their home but they lost their business too."

The center has disaster relief personnel working with people affected by the fire, as well as those affected by the Royal Gorge and West Fork fires, Marcoulier said. It also holds emergency preparedness meetings for businesses.

"What we're teaching through our disaster relief program is that we're already going through a tough time economically and physically," she said. If businesses don't continue to market themselves, those tough times will continue.

"We can't do it for the business; the businesses have to do it themselves," she said.

Wilson said the fire has not impacted her business significantly. She lost one wedding during the week of the fire, but otherwise, she said, every weekend is booked. The bed and breakfast recently hosted a family reunion that relocated from South Fork.

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