James Proby

Making the long journey from Texas to Colorado nearly eight months ago was a little intimidating.

While I traveled during my time in the Army to larger cities like Washington D.C., Baltimore and Tampa Bay, I’d never lived long-term in a city as big as the Springs.

One aspect of small-town life I was worried about missing was the sense of community you get from neighbors and even businesses working together.

That concern has diminished quickly since I began working at the Business Journal about two months ago.

It started when I met with my first young professional interviewee, Kelley Heider, who is the vice president of innovation and social media at the digital public relations company for SSPR.

Not only did Heider, a transplant herself, welcome me to the area, she eagerly volunteered to help me connect with sources.

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She also spoke highly of the Springs’ residents and the sense of community she feels.

“Here, just walking down the street, people will smile or say ‘hi’ to you for no real reason other than they are more genuine and kind human beings,” Heider said.

So far, that statement rings true, which brings me to the next professional I met, who was not only kind, but also inspiring.

The Men’s Xchange founder James Proby took his love of fashion and is using it for the betterment of area men.

It was hard not to be impressed by Proby’s store and passion to help others.

He assists homeless men find proper job interview attire in addition to several fresh-out-of-the-service veterans.

As I was leaving after conducting our interview, I got a small glimpse of Proby helping a veteran looking for a suit to wear to his first post-Army interview.

I watched as Proby sized the veteran, giving him tips on patterns and the proper way the business suits should fit.

“Men don’t get dressed well because they haven’t had someone hold them accountable or teach it to them,” Proby said. “I really am lucky and blessed to be able to have helped a lot of men with interview clothing, which in turn helped them get the job.”

More recently, I discovered that sense of community while visiting local craft breweries.

Time and time again, I heard from each of the owners or brewers how the businesses work together and even look out for each other.

“I welcome all brewers to the marketplace,” said Nano 108 Brewing Company owner Keith Altemose. “I want us all to help create more clientele and craft brewer connoisseurs and then share that clientele.”

Like Heider, the brewery owner quickly offered to be a go-to for story ideas and possible sources.

“I’m kind of known locally as an expert in brewing,” Altemose said. “I never mind helping someone out if they call and have a question whether it’s a reporter looking for a story idea or another brewery needing some advice or to borrow something.”

I’m impressed because it appears living in a bigger city just means more of that community vibe I love, and not less.

As a result, I eagerly look forward to exploring the Springs while meeting more business professionals along the way.