Widener Small Business Development Center Serves Business Community Amid Coronavirus

By Jessica Reyes, Assistant Director of Communications
Widener SBDC Success Lab

From closed retail stores to restaurants only serving take-out, small businesses across the region are feeling the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, the Widener University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and students in Widener’s School of Business Administration are, as always, there to help.

The Widener SBDC, a guiding fixture of the region since 2007, has maintained its consulting sessions for small businesses online and introduced a three-part webinar series to help small business owners navigate the Coronavirus impact.

Widener students are also continuing to meet virtually with SBDC clients to consult on issues, such as designing a website and hosting a virtual launch party for a client-developed app. Despite the Coronavirus disruptions, these hands-on learning experiences – now happening virtually – are still the foundation of a Widener education.

These are challenging times unlike any the business world has ever faced. The Widener SBDC is called to help businesses in the region build resiliency and lead through these uncertain and difficult times. It is the least we can do to support the backbone of our economy. SBDC Director Lenin Agudo

Joi Spraggins, of Legacy Bridges STEM Academic, Inc., said help from SBDC students could not have come at a better time.

“Given the recent public health crisis, making sure I have a website where my partners can learn about our organization without having to meet face to face is critical,” Spraggins said. “The development of this website wouldn’t be possible without the students’ design help.”

Participant at SBDC Coronavirus Webinar
The Widener SBDC's first webinar on the COVID-19 business impact drew over 50 participants.

The first webinar session, “Weathering the Storm,” on March 18 drew over 50 participants, mostly from the City of Philadelphia and Delaware and Chester counties. They expressed concerns about maintaining cash flow, moving operations online, the length of the disruption, and morale in their organizations.

Guest experts – Dr. Luis Espaillat, who is affiliated with Grand View Health-Sellersville, and Certified Public Accountant Joseph Reyes, who is a principle at J. L Reyes Advisory & Consulting, offered advice. Much of the guidance focused on marketing and communications, risk assessment and management, and state and federal loan resources for businesses adversely impacted.

This is the type of trusted support that becomes even more important during difficult economic times. Widener’s SBDC has since 2007 been providing one-on-one consulting services and educational programs and seminars to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in southeastern Pennsylvania. Last year, Widener’s SBDC received the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Kevin Tacchino, a business consultant and government marketing specialist at Widener SBDC, is one of many consultants fielding daily questions from small business clients.

“Their biggest concern is the financial impact. They are asking, ‘How do I keep my doors open through this?’” Tacchino said. “The Widener SBDC has the expertise to walk them through a strategy for weathering this storm and finding innovative solutions.”

The last two webinar sessions will take place March 23 at 12 p.m. (Navigating Resources) and March 27 at 12 p.m. (Funding Opportunities).

Widener SBDC COVID-19 Resource HUB

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