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  • Local Organizations Help Businesses Navigate Reopening and Recovery

    From financial struggles to understanding when and how they can safely reopen, local businesses have experienced a number of hurdles during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an organization that serves the business community, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce recognizes the challenges local businesses face during this time, and have partnered with a number of local organizations to help our businesses navigate the road to reopening and recovery.

    “The Chamber has always been a strong supporter of our business community, and we know how important it is for us to show up for our local businesses at a time when they need us most,” said Glenn Morris, President and CEO for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. “With so many great organizations out there devoted to strengthening our local economy, we know that in most cases, the solutions businesses are looking for can be found through working with these organizations.”

    Morris says a large part of the Chamber’s role in the reopening and recovery process has been reaching out to local businesses, understanding their struggles and concerns, and connecting them with local organizations and resources who can fit their needs.

    “In many cases, the resources businesses are looking for can be found through the Chamber or one of the other business-serving organizations we partner with,” Morris explained. “Many businesses are surprised to learn about the number of local services and resources we have available to help businesses recover, succeed and grow.”

    SCORE San Luis Obispo Provides Free Workshops & Mentoring for Small Businesses
    SCORE San Luis Obispo serves San Luis Obispo county and Northern Santa Barbara County. “At SCORE, our primary goal is to help the formation, growth, and success of small businesses in San Luis Obispo County and the Santa Maria Valley, explained SCORE San Luis Obispo Chapter Chair Horace Morana. “We do that by providing free mentoring and free workshops.”

    Horace said that he has seen firsthand how the business shutdowns caused by COVID-19 have caused enormous financial hardships on small businesses. “The greatest need we have seen for our small businesses was to be able to get access to the loan programs provided by Congress and the Small Business Administration (SBA).” Morana said. “SCORE as an SBA partner was able to guide businesses through the loan process. We put together a dedicated team just to help clients apply for available loans.”

    Morana said that as businesses begin to reopen, SCORE will be there to help them with ways they can be successful in this brand new environment. SCORE also offers free mentoring, workshops, and a variety of other resources which are available at sanluisobispo.score.org

    Cal Poly CIE SBDC Offers Consulting, Funding and Training Opportunities
    The Cal Poly CIE SBDC (Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Small Business Development Center) is another excellent resource for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, offering no-cost, expert one-on-one business consulting, training and online courses in startup assistance, debt and equity funding, sales and marketing, international trade and product commercialization. They provide assistance to San Luis Obispo County and has just recently received the green light to offer services to Santa Maria businesses.

    “We have world class consulting services to help you tackle business problems, at no cost,” explained Liz Fisher, Cal Poly CIE SBDC Program Manager. “While our COVID-19 task force is readily available to assist you towards re-opening measures, our team is also experienced to counsel in the following areas: Marketing, Sales, Human Resources, Legal, Startups, Funding, Finance and Operations.”

    Fischer said during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the organization was busy assisting companies in applying for SBA disaster relief funds. “To date we have assisted 500 clients and tracked $14M in disaster funds allocated to our local business community,” Fisher said.

     "As businesses are gradually re-opening to the general public, the SBDC is here to continue assisting business owners in navigating these uncharted waters,” said Judy Hahan, Economic Development Director for Cal Poly CIE. “ Our team is here to help you build a solid new foundation for sustainability throughout 2020, with a goal to have the right strategies in place for growth and success in 2021. We will be offering continued support to help businesses manage mandated health and safety guidelines, guidance to innovate with new business models and help businesses tap into new revenue streams. Out of recession, comes amazing creativity, let's tap into that!"

    To learn more about resources available through the Cal Poly CIE SBDC, visit sbdc.calpoly.edu or contact slosbdc@gmail.com.

    Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board Helps Businesses Strengthen the Local Economy
    The Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board (WDB) develops innovative workforce strategies that help businesses, individuals, and industries achieve and sustain economic vitality across all communities in Santa Barbara County Chambers of Commerce (partnerships on webinars, etc.)

    The Santa Barbara Workforce Development Board works with employers to optimize their human resource needs including hiring, training and retaining employees. They provide assistance with business expansion and custom programs to meet specific business and industry employment requirements. Part of their mission is assisting employers to increase their competitiveness while strengthening the regional economy.

    The Workforce Development Board can help you:

    • Find the employees you need
    • Pre-screen potential employees
    • Provide facilities for interviewing
    • Train current employees
    • Retain valued workers
    • Expand your business
    Learn more by visiting www.sbcwdb.org.

    Local Chambers partner to provide educational opportunities
    The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce has partnered with a number of other local Chambers in the County to provide a number of informative webinars on COVID-19 business impacts, reopening your business safely, and other timely topics. Upcoming webinars can be found at santamaria.com. 
    Additionally, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber offers a variety of reopening and recovery resources for businesses at santamaria.com/COVID19-Recovery. If businesses have additional questions or need more assistance, they can fill out the Chamber’s business assistance form, and someone from the Chamber will connect with the business to assist with the help they need. This form can be found at santamaria.com/business-assistance-form.