SBDC Template

Donna Graves

Donna Graves

Donna Graves


Donna Graves loves research and details. Her special niche as an advisor is to provide specific information for businesses based on their target market. She does “Data Mining.”

Donna searches a variety of data bases to produce detailed reports for mostly start-up businesses. For example, “If an SBDC client were planning to open a fitness studio, targeting a specific demographic, I would search for age criteria, income levels, individuals who have expressed an interest in fitness or have purchased fitness equipment or subscribed to a fitness magazine in their geographic area. This would help them decide if there were enough potential clients to make the business viable,” she explains.

Using data sets that the SBDC subscribes to on an annual basis, Graves can forecast potential niche’s within a market area. This information allows her to determine who competitors are, where they are and how many there are. This data is invaluable for start-up companies and can save them from doing months of research themselves or investing in or starting a business that does not have the client base to succeed.

Using the demographic data she can create reports on customer types, income, gender, ethnicity, age and other quantifiable criteria. She helps business owners refine who they are looking for as potential customers and creates reports based on the demographic information. “This information is essential for accurate decision making.”

Since the Durango area is relatively small, businesses need to supply goods and services locally. Graves could help a company look at neighborhoods that might have the demographic they are looking for and help them plan delivery routes, for example.

She also does economic impact studies for the SBDC and Region 9 Economic Development District. If a new manufacturing company wanted to come to Durango, she could quantify how they would impact the community as far as necessary supporting jobs and estimate the trickle-down effects in other areas.

As a former archaeologist, she comes by the love of research and details naturally. She received a Masters degree in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University and honed her research skills as a field archaeologist and projects manager. After ten years in the field, Graves got tired of moving around to various excavation sites and parlayed her knowledge and skill into a new career.

Donna loves her job because, “I’m always researching something different. Every client has unique needs and I’m constantly learning about new businesses and industries.”


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