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Women’s Business Center launches COVID recovery task force to support local Women-Owned Businesses

The Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Canisius College announced today that they were the recipient of a $420,000 grant through the CARES Act, the largest in the history of the WBC at Canisius College. These funds will be used to offer a variety of free COVID recovery programs that will run now through February 2022. The program titled, ReConnect. ReStart. ReGrow. aims to help women-owned businesses “improve their finances in today’s challenging marketplace – whether they are struggling to keep an already existing business going, hoping to launch a new business or managing fast-paced growth as a result of the pandemic.”

Sara Vescio, Executive Director, WBC

The free programs will be available to all women-owned businesses throughout the Western New York region and will be available to businesses of all sizes and industries.

“The WBC has long been the resource for women business owners who are looking to take their business to the next level,” said WBC Executive Director Sara Vescio. “We pride ourselves on creating and adapting new programming to best suit the specific needs of our local women entrepreneurs, and to provide opportunities for them to grow and succeed. With the needed federal funding to support the recovery of women-owned small businesses, we were able to create this team and provide free, timely and holistic business education.”

Studies show that the impact of the pandemic has hit women the hardest,” said Vescio, “especially if you are a woman of color, a woman struggling with anxiety or depression, a woman taking care of elderly relatives or school-aged children, or a woman entrepreneur or business owner. That’s why programming like Reconnect. Restart. Regrow. is especially vital right now.

The WBC used the funding provided through the Small Business Administration, to create a task force that consists of experienced facilitators and mentors who will provide “results-oriented business education and up-to-the-minute guidance” in the following areas:

  • Business Development: Christie Nelson, MBA
  • Finance: Nakeia Cook, MBA
  • Marketing: Jessica Marinelli *
  • Sales: Elisabeth Marino
  • Technology: LaTashia Martin
  • Law: Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, Esq.
  • Access to Capital: Royce Woods

In addition to the free classes, this taskforce will offer “Office Hour” appointments for 12 full months in a variety of business areas.  The programs are aimed at COVID recovery efforts, and will provide business education and guidance in the areas of supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, or a decrease in revenue or customers. It also helps women seeking to launch a new business or capitalize on other possible opportunities in response to the pandemic.

The Women’s Business Center is also partnering with Canisius College to provide clients with training for people-related issues. As part of her MBA Organizational Behavior course, Dr. Robyn Brouer, Professor and Chair of the Management Department, is directing five student groups in a consulting project for WBC clients on topics such as leadership, conflict, inclusion and diversity, motivation and engagement.

Getting Started with 1:1 Counseling

For those entrepreneurs feeling lost or stuck, they can meet with the Business Development Specialist Christie Nelson, MBA. Christie review with the owner/entrepreneur their current business financials, operations and market trends to help them decide whether it’s time to further invest in their business, find a pivot, stay on pause or close up shop. She may recommend further sessions with the subject matter experts on the WBC Task Force.

Public Sessions and Events

Businesses can join just one or as many programs as they like throughout the year. Interested participants can learn more about the programs offered and register for classes or office hours online: thewomensbusinesscenter.com/covid-recovery-programs.

Their first event will be a “Meet the Team” session on Monday, March 22 at 11 AM via Zoom, click here for more information.


* Jessica Marinelli, a member of the COVID Recovery Taskforce, also leads Marketing and Business Development efforts at Local Matters, Inc. DBA Buffalo Rising. Lead Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Written by Buffalo Rising

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