Small Businesses Get Help Navigating Pandemic's Challenges

By Eric Galatas, Public News Service (NE)

Businesses across Nebraska can now get help navigating challenges during the coronavirus pandemic through new online classes offered by the Center for Rural Affairs.

Jessica Campos, Women's Business Center Director at the Center for Rural Affairs, pointed to the successful transition made by the Burrito House in Schuyler working with the Center's staff. The owners implemented revised safety procedures and went online, tapping social media to connect with customers stuck at home and eager to order from their new pick-up menu.

"Because they were able to not only be transparent with their clientele or their community, they were able to promote if there was a menu change, the safety precautions that they were going to be taking. Everything was being promoted through social media," Campos said.

Burrito House owners, Luis Salinas and and his brothers Jose and Cristobal, attended the first online class of the Center's Restaurant Academy. Campos said the Center also has had to pivot from their in-person classes to remote learning on topics including digital marketing and other courses tapping up-to-date best practices and guidelines from the Better Business Bureau.

Campos said one new class launched this summer, on how to manage operations and staff working remotely can help a wide range of Nebraska businesses transition from in-person services, and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"A lot of our businesses, any gyms or yoga studios, really any other type of business now doing things more virtually, rely on the importance of transitioning from that in-person training to telework training," she said.

Campos said there also will be a class on cyber security, important for businesses using online platforms for selling products or services. The Center also is helping small businesses access federal stimulus loans and other capital infusions to help companies weather the economic downturn.