If ever there was a father figure to Pikes Peak region’s business community, it’s Bruce Shepard.
In 1972, he co-founded the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. He’s a past president of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the creator of a scholarship program for future entrepreneurs
Shepard, who also runs Village Associates Inc., said he did it all for the kids.
Concern about whether his children and the children of friends and colleagues would be able to find work and live in the Colorado Springs area led him and his business partners to found the EDC.
Recognition that the high price of higher education could inhibit the growth of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs led Shepard to create the “Reach Your Peak” scholarship fund for University of Colorado at Colorado Springs students.
And, if that’s not enough, Shepard fathered a neighborhood, partnering with his brother to build Village Seven in 1968.
Shepard took time recently to tell CSBJ about himself and his work.
Organization: Village Associates Inc. and Reach Your Peak Scholarship Foundation
Position: President and founder
Hometown: Colorado Springs
How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: My whole life
Education: District 11 Schools and Colorado Springs High School. It’s now known as Palmer High School, but back in those days there was only one high school in the city and that was it.
A few words about your company: At Village Associates, we look to make solid real estate Investments in the community. The Reach Your Peak scholarship program was created five years ago to aid mid-level income students. Students who come from wealthy families have an inherent advantage paying for school, and most scholarship programs target low-income students. But, the middle income students need help, too. Reach Your Peak is steadily growing. This year the program has 95 students, and last year we graduated 15. I believe these kids are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and we need them.
Recent accomplishments: I received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Colorado in recognition of the Reach Your Peak Scholarship Foundation.
Biggest career break: Joining my brother, a home builder, to develop Village Seven. We bought the land together and it has always been a success. The homes sold fast and now it’s a recognizable community. Thirty years will do that.
Someone you admire: Ronald Reagan. I met him a couple of times. He was one of the world’s great communicators. He got his message across every time, and I believe good communication skills are the key to a successful business, but also to life.
About your family: I’m married to my wife of 53 years, Anne, and we have three daughters, LeAnn, Patty and Sue Ellen; 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, three of whom are triplets.
Something else you’d like to accomplish: I would like to do it all over again. I’ve loved the ride, and I’d start over even if I didn’t know what I know now.
How your business will change in the next decade: Students will always need financial aid, and I believe more people will come forward to contribute.
What book are you currently reading? “Building of the Brooklyn Bridge.” It’s really a story about a family who overcame the odds to achieve success.
What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? Create a larger economic base and more jobs for young people.