Suffolk Forward Expands Small Business Help During Second Viral Wave

Suffolk Forward Expands Small Business Help During Second Viral Wave

The Modell's Sporting Goods store in Miller Place closed earlier this year during the height of the first wave of the pandemic. Officials are looking to stave off even more closures during the coronavirus' second wave. Photo by Kyle Barr

The second punch from the resurgent virus, which has already caused an increase in positive tests in Suffolk County, may soon also connect with small businesses.

Determined to help the economic engine of many communities throughout the county survive through the winter months when people may be stuck indoors, an initiative started in the spring called Suffolk Forward is expanding.

With financial support from Bank of America, the effort, which started with consulting, technology and think tank ideas, will expand to 200 to 300 companies in the coming months.

Suffolk Forward taps into the expertise of Dave Calone, Chief Executive Officer of Jove Equity Partners, Dr. Manuel London, the Dean of the College of Business at Stony Brook University, Tom Moebus of the Shift Group and Bob Isakson, Long Island Market President for Bank of America.

“This time, right now, when our Suffolk County businesses and Long Island businesses are at their most vulnerable spot, with the failure of the federal government to come up with legislation that would help small businesses” said Calone on a conference call with reporters. Without a federal Paycheck Protection Program to fall back on, efforts like Suffolk Forward become increasingly important, he added.

Suffolk Forward has a job board, a virtual expert network that is staffed by professors at the Stony Brook University College of Business and a gift card platform that helps support local businesses.

“People would spend a lot of money to get consulting like this,” Calone said. “Local businesses have the opportunity for free to tap into these experts.”

Calone said he is “excited to expand the pandemic shift workshop” from the few dozen companies so far to a few hundred in the coming months.

Moebus of the Shift Group said some of the breakout sessions in these work groups include four, 90-minute interactions.

“Business owners are very clever [but] they run out of ideas for themselves,” Moebus said. In these interactions, they “work together and create new ideas and develop creative solutions for each other.”

These efforts help “rebuild Main Street through one of these zoom groups at a time,” Moebus added.

The sessions also are available to chambers of commerce, which help them operate differently, particularly in a challenging, fluid and changing setting.

Interested business owners can sign up for workshops through shiftgroup.com/pandemic-shift or at the Stony Brook College of Business web site, College of Business Programs Offered | College of Business.

County Exeutive Steve Bellone (D) thanked the participants for their efforts and highlighted the importance of these sessions for business owners and for the future economic survival of the county.

“We want to continue the incredible progress we’ve made from the time when we were at the epicenter of this epidemic to where we are today,” Bellone said. “As these numbers continue to surge, we put at risk not only public health, but our economic recovery.”

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