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Free training offered to small businesses

Do you or someone you know operate a currently active small business in St. Charles County or elsewhere in Missouri? Is that business at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Does that business need to do something to prevent it from being at risk in the near or intermediate future? 

If the answer is yes to any or all of those questions, free help now is available.

On Aug. 19, the St. Charles County Economic Development Council (EDC) issued a news release announcing a seven-week online training series “Managing Forward” being offered to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs at no cost.

The series is being provided by the Missouri Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), in partnership with the EDC. SBDC is a program out of the University of Missouri, normally funded by the federal Small Business Administration. Funding for this special training is being provided by the CARES Act.

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The overall training goal is to help small business owners strengthen their organizations for the future. The series will cover timely, valuable topics for small business owners looking to protect and future-proof their businesses in light of their hard experience with COVID-19 disruptions.   

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) indicates that businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for about 44% of U.S. economic activity, and employ almost half of all American workers. Yelp, Inc. has gathered data showing more than 80,000 small businesses have shut down permanently since the beginning of the pandemic through July. 

Those jobs are not coming back.

In the EDC news release, Justin Schulz, director of SBDC at the EDC, said this is the largest collaborative effort in recent memory to support small businesses in Missouri.  

“We’ve worked collaboratively with the University of Missouri, the SBDC, and distribution partners statewide to ensure we’re providing the best information as efficiently as possible,” Schulz said. “The curriculum has been broken up specifically so businesses can pick and choose the sessions most applicable to their needs and situation.” 

The first training session in the series titled Disaster Planning for Small Business is from 9-10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3. The session will help small businesses develop a plan for disaster management and recovery. 

The full series will include sessions on:

  • Sept. 10: Managing Continuity in Remote Environments
  • Sept. 17: Online Essentials for Small Businesses
  • Sept. 24: Agile Marketing, Sales, and eCommerce for Small Business
  • Oct. 1: Supply Chain Challenges for Small Businesses
  • Oct. 8: Essentials of Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
  • Oct. 15: Managing Forward Series Recap with Live Q&A Panel 

Participants can register for the entire series or pick and choose individual webinars to attend.

“Every business has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schulz said. “The Managing Forward series will address the primary impact points we’ve most commonly seen small businesses struggle with.” 

Schulz told Mid Rivers Newsmagazine, “My usual daily job at SBDC and EDC is to meet with small business owners to help them with financial planning, capital management and similar topics. However, now it’s all about COVID-19 and how to survive the current economic and social changes.

“This training program actually is available for free to anyone in the state but I want to make sure that all St. Charles County businesses are aware of this and have all of the tools and information they need to survive.”

On a personal note, he added “I don’t want any business to fail because of one thing they just did not know.”

To view session details, register for the Sept. 3 event, or register for the entire series of training courses, visit the SBDC website at https://sbdc.missouri.edu/news/managing-forward-series-4642.

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