The Region 9 board of directors named Joe Keck, the director of the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center, the Economic Development Leader of the Year at a meeting in Mancos on Jan. 14.
"I'm very blessed to love what I do and get paid for it," he said at the award presentation at the Montezuma Community Economic Development Association meeting.
Region 9 Economic Development District and the Small Business Development Center work together to serve businesses in a five-county area that includes Montezuma, La Plata, Dolores, San Juan and Archuleta counties.
"Joe is a tremendous optimist, really nice guy and really helps businesses to the nth degree," said Ed Morlan, executive director of Region 9, who presented the award.
Keck started doing economic development in the area for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe 30 years ago.
Since Keck started at the small business center in 2002, he has grown the number of people that use the center's services from 160 to more than 500 a year.
He was able to extend the services by enlisting a network of business advisers who are able to meet one-on-one with those interested in getting loans, strategic planning and many other areas of business.
He attributes his success at building one of the best centers in the state to his partnerships with local chambers of commerce and other groups.
"We've got so much to build on, so many resources," he said.