The 29 million small businesses in America are the fuel that powers the U.S. economy.

“Small businesses create nearly two out of three new jobs in America,” said Gina Sacripanti, vice president, marketing and public relations at the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado. “We want to do what we can to help them thrive.”

That’s why the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center and the BBB of Southern Colorado are presenting the 6th Annual Small Business Week, from Sunday, April 29 through Thursday, May 3, with events, workshops and panels designed to educate, celebrate and champion small businesses in the Pikes Peak Region.

“Small businesses are the creators of community, the No. 1 producers for job growth and innovation, and are the voices that create the culture of economic development initiatives,” said Aikta Marcoulier, executive director of the Pikes Peak SBDC. “We are excited to celebrate our sixth-year anniversary of this amazing week of events with our partner, the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado.”

This year’s Small Business Week promises to be bigger and better than ever — in fact, it will be the largest celebration of small business in Colorado, Sacripanti said.

The week gets off to a tasty start with the 3rd Annual Food Truck Cook-off from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, April 29 at the Norris Penrose Event Center.

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The menu of food trucks has expanded this year, with 17 trucks participating.

“We are very excited about the additional changes to the food truck competition including live music and activities such as face painting and henna tattoos,” Marcoulier said. “With the number interested in attending the Food Truck Cook-off at over 2,000 people, be sure to purchase tickets in advance of Sunday’s kickoff event.”

Among the items attendees can sample are Korean Bulgogi Steak Tacos from Black Forest Chew Chew, Fricassee Chicken from Island Vibes Jamaica Cuisine and Rabbit Rattlesnake Bratwurst from TK’s Hot Dogs & More.

The food truck chefs will compete for a Best Food Truck award from six judges and a People’s Choice award.

Admission of $20 includes eight sampling tickets, a free drink and a voting token for the People’s Choice award. Alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages will be available for sale.

From Monday, April 30 through Wednesday, May 2, entrepreneurs, owners and managers can learn from their peers at daily educational events.

On Monday, five expert panelists will discuss Rockstar Marketing. They will share their success stories and how they differentiated themselves within their industries and gained loyal followings. Key elements will include channels that work, market research techniques and how to market on a small-business budget. The event includes lunch.

Tuesday’s panelists will talk about how to keep up with Colorado’s chart-topping economy, including workforce development, start-ups, growing your business and adjusting to changing demographics.

On Wednesday, three interactive workshops at the Catalyst Campus will focus on emerging business trends: mindfulness in the workplace, disruptive innovation and new trends in cyber. Attendees will learn how they can apply social impact strategies, new technologies, self-care and team building. Admission to these 20-minute workshops is free.

The week concludes with the annual Small Business Celebration and Awards Dinner from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 1775 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd.

Keynote speaker is Corinne Hancock, an internationally recognized expert in building leaders, effective teams and cultural diversity. Her presentation, “Thriving in Chaos,” will impart strategies to adapt to change, lead through uncertainty and react successfully in chaotic circumstances.

Hancock has plenty of experience working around the world in chaotic conditions and high-pressure situations. She has worked on more than 50 international projects with organizations ranging from the US Department of State to for-profit and nonprofit companies and agencies.

Hancock’s presentation “will leave our audience with great takeaways for their businesses,” Marcoulier said.

The culmination of Small Business Week will be the presentation of annual awards in five categories: Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Family-owned Small Business of the Year, Veteran Small Business Owner of the Year, Small Business Champion of the Year and Small Business Person of the Year.

Finalists for the awards include leaders of 15 local small businesses.

“We are proud to announce these finalists and highlight their hard work, achievements and innovation in our community,” BBB of Southern Colorado CEO Jonathan Liebert said.

The local Small Business Week coincides with National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The week’s events are sponsored by businesses, business organizations and media including the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Colorado Springs Independent.

For tickets to all events, costs and more information about Pikes Peak Small Business Week, visit pikespeaksbdc.org/smallbusinessweek.