Mark Bittle moved from Iowa to Colorado Springs in 2008 to be close to the mountains.

When he arrived he didn’t know a single person. But he knew from his experience that to be successful he needed to get involved in the community. He jumped right in, volunteering for several organizations; and he hasn’t looked back.

Now the 35-year-old market development manager/public relations at CenturyLink also is serving on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Colorado and the Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center. He serves as an ambassador with the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and is a volunteer counselor at the Small Business Development Center.

Bittle has worked for small businesses and owned one. He loves talking with small-business owners about customer service, business planning and sales strategies.

You grew up in Iowa; so, what brought you to Colorado Springs?

I moved to Colorado Springs in September 2008 to get closer to the mountains and to continue developing my professional career. When I arrived in Colorado Springs, I did not know a single person, and I made a commitment to get involved within the community to meet new people and become associated with respected organizations. Those organizations that assisted me in gaining exposure included the following: Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, Small Business Development Center, Colorado Springs Young Professionals, Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center and Big Brother and Big Sisters of Southern Colorado. Today, I am fortunate to have developed strong relationships with many cross-functional community members and leaders.

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What do you do for CenturyLink?

My title with CenturyLink is the market development manager, and I work closely with stakeholders both internally and externally representing Southern and Western Colorado. The responsibilities include public relations, media relations, and strategy and community development. Current initiatives that I am working on are increasing awareness of our Internet Basics program for qualifying lower-income households, determining where to deploy and how to market higher speeds available for broadband, entertainment and voice services and building relationships with local media and community leaders. I enjoy the opportunities and the trust that CenturyLink provides its employees with their local operating model. This model places the decisions within the local market to drive investments that benefit the communities in which we work and live.

You volunteer for the Small Business Development Center, coaching small-business owners. What is the No. 1 issue with which small businesses in Colorado Springs are dealing? What guidance do you give them?

Through my volunteerism with the Small Business Development Center, I can honestly say that it is one of the best organizations for businesses to plug into to assist them in managing the strategic growth of their business. As a volunteer counselor and instructor, I specialize in the marketing, customer service, business planning and sales strategies when meeting and speaking to SBDC clients. When counseling with the clients of the SBDC, my first step is to uncover what their needs are and determine how I can best help them get to the next level. The biggest issue that I have seen with small businesses in the Colorado Springs market is how to most effectively manage their time and being able to get their message out to perspective customers. I recommend that each business owner focus on developing a strategic plan to assist them with managing the growth of their business. Setting goals is not specific enough anymore; goals need to be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Sensitive (S.M.A.R.T.).

You owned your own business, Mortgage Innovations, for six years. What did you learn from that experience?

While owning my own businesses and being President of the Iowa Association of Mortgage Brokers, I learned that in order to be successful you need to get involved and engaged within the community; membership alone does not afford you the opportunities of being present, involved and engaged. I surrounded myself with other like-minded, forward-thinking individuals who had the passion and drive to be successful while continuing to educate themselves. This strategy helped my company be the first mortgage broker in the nation to have 100 percent of my staff hold industry designations and certifications; it also opened many doors to get both local and national attention as an industry expert and national instructor.

You are on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters and Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center and you’ve even been among the brave (male) souls to attend the Women’s Chamber luncheons. Why so involved?

In my personal time I enjoy volunteering in my community to assist others. As a board member for both the Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southern Colorado, these are two organizations that I am proud to support their mission. Additionally I enjoy facilitating workshops for the Small Business Development Center and serving as an ambassador for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance. Outside of work and volunteering, I am an avid soccer player and enjoy spending time with friends.

There is a big emphasis among city leaders to attract and retain young professionals to the Springs; what advice would you give them on how to achieve that goal?

If I were to provide my recommendation regarding how to attract and retain young professionals, I would recommend that the leaders reach out to those young professionals and set time aside to better understand what that demographic is looking for.