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Software company INFOCU5, which Telluride native Jake Bush started, relocated from its Pasadena, California, pictured above, to Grand Junction recently. (Courtesy photo)

An initiative of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) has helped INFOCU5, a company with Telluride roots, to fully relocate and centralize their operations and growth efforts to the Western Slope of Colorado.

The move saw the tech startup, whose founder and CEO is Telluride native Jake Bush, transfer its final California operations from Pasadena, California, to Grand Junction, a process that is now complete.

The software company, which offers software solutions aimed at helping organizations manage their customer service and sales capacities, received the state’s first Location Neutral Employee Incentive (LONE) for the Western Slope from OEDIT. The incentive provides companies with a Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit and additional cash incentive for each remote worker employed in an eligible rural county of the state.

Bush was raised in Telluride and is a member of the Telluride High School Class of 2002. In 2015, he founded INFOCU5 (pronounced “in focus”) in Santa Barbara, California, with seed capital from family friend and long-time Telluride local Davis Fansler.

From there, the enterprise flourished, expanding throughout central and southern California, including Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Ventura and Pasadena. Bush, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, successfully started and exited his first start-up company, Direct Action Group, a full-service direct marketing agency, prior to the establishment of INFOCU5 in 2015.

After 16 years of living in California, Jake and his wife, Corey, also a Telluride native, made the decision to move with their daughter, Rylee, from their Santa Barbara home and return to Telluride to grow INFOCU5 and raise their family. This decision was based on the desire to stimulate the Telluride and surrounding region’s economy and also to return to their roots in the box canyon, according to Bush.

“Being born and raised in such an amazing community here in Telluride with two wonderful parents — David Bush one of the founders of Telluride Helitrax and Sally Jones, an inspirational leader behind what everyone now knows from the town park — I knew that I needed to raise my daughter here in the mountains and make sure she was also able to take her first steps with skis on,” he said.

Once back in town, Bush got involved with the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club as a volunteer coach, working alongside his childhood coaches Larry Gianatti and Justin Chandler. There he met Jesse Johnson, founder of the Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA). Johnson in turn introduced him to Marc Nager, formerly of the TVA and now fund director for the Greater Colorado Venture Fund, which invests in early stage Colorado startups.

The pair were able to connect Bush to resources. In fact, Nager’s venture fund would go on to provide funding to INFOCU5 as part of its relocation, support that requires the company to stay headquartered in Colorado for five years or keep at least 50 percent of its workforce in the state.

“Managing a business virtually in a mountain town presented a new set of challenges,” Bush explained. “I found Jesse and Marc to be great resources for finding individuals who were engaged in running a startup, sharing issues, finding solutions and bouncing ideas off of.”

Another door opened when an Atlanta-based friend with a second home in Telluride urged Bush to join newly formed Telluride chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a global network of business leaders under 50 years old.

“We started the chapter and I found that there were like-minded people in the area that were having the same experiences as me,” Bush said. “YPO brought us all together, and I realized it was very possible to get that business leadership environment here in Telluride. When you are seeking solutions, you have this very tight, close-knit chapter that you are a part of that opens up this whole world inside of Telluride that didn’t exist before. That was the critical turning point.”

The relocation, which sees the company’s operations in its newest Grand Junction location, in Denver and its head office in Telluride, has significant advantages for the region, not only bringing jobs to rural Colorado, but jobs that, according to a company press release, are high-quality tech roles with an average annual salary of over $62,000, an amount higher than the most recently available median income for Mesa County of $53,600.

“INFOCU5’s journey to be fully-based and grown here in Colorado has been a true labor of love and made possible by the support of long-time locals, OEDIT, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the region’s growing YPO chapter,” Bush remarked. “Moving forward, the software company looks at this opportunity as one to join forces and partner with professionals, businesses and individuals to work together as a collective to enhance and strengthen the existing relationships across the Western Slope that are kept alive by our rural-based communities.”

Bush pointed out that INFOCU5’s hybrid work environment, in which employees can work from home or in the office, means it can hire from rural communities across the Western Slope. These communities, he stressed, include places like Telluride and Montrose, whose residents may not think they have much in common, but which Bush describes as part of one interconnected “economic ecosystem”.

“This isn’t just a personal initiative because I am from here and I love it here,” Bush said of relocating his business. “Our focus is rural-based Colorado. The relocation is an opportunity to truly tie these communities together in a positive way.”