ACE Member Institutions Support the Local Economy, Businesses During the Pandemic
July 01, 2020

ACE member institutions are stepping up to support their local economies as cities and towns across the country continue to reopen.

Colleges and universities have launched various programs to help businesses relaunch and recover from coronavirus. The Small Business Recovery & Relaunch Initiative, located on the University of Southern Maine's campus, advises businesses on how to access aid, reopen, and more. Similarly, Bloomsburg University's Zeigler College of Business has created a small business recovery program that educates businesses on how to navigate the economic downturn. The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) launched the Small Business Development Center COVID-19 Business Recovery Accelerator that provides counseling and helps businesses access loans.

“UTSA is committed to leveraging its knowledge enterprise to support the community in this time of need," said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “I can think of no better way to do that than to pave the way for small businesses to get emergency financial relief."

Some institutions have even focused more specifically on boosting and supporting local startups and entrepreneurs. Ohio University's Innovation Center has continued offering virtual business development support and helping clients with 3-D printing design and product development through its small business incubator. The Medical Device Development Center at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell has boosted research by two startups working on vaccines and COVID-19 testing. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has launched a grant program for social entrepreneurs called Fast Grants that funds scientific research on COVID-19. The Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University has also provided funding to two entrepreneurship programs that help marginalized populations affected by COVID-19.

Other community support efforts include offering business courses, primarily online. Colorado State University has a bundle of courses on how to adjust to change in the business world that is  aimed at business professionals and leaders. Alabama A & M University is hosting webinars and sessions to give small businesses tools to help them recover economically from the pandemic. The University of New Mexico has launched an online crash course on how to set up and manage a virtual storefront.  Cape Cod Community College has an online, non-credit course that similarly focuses on helping local businesses navigate the logistics of reopening.

“[W]e are also dedicated to helping our region safely begin to recover and reopen," Cape Cod President John Cox said. “Our local economy – especially during the summer months – relies heavily on our amazing local businesses."

Likewise, Florida Gulf Coast University launched a "Restart SWFL" initiative that will provide an online discussion forum for businesses on best practices and safety measures. The Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego created the COVID-19 Business Recovery Coalition, which offers pro bono assistance with things like financial planning, resource challenges, branding, and business strategy to San Diego businesses.

“The Rady School Business Recovery Coalition is the next evolution of why the school was founded," said Rady School Dean Lisa Ordóñez. “It's in our DNA to help businesses with innovative ideas. We want to be at the forefront of the recovery effort in the San Diego region."

Community colleges have also joined the effort. Central Ohio Technical College is offering about $1 million in career training scholarships to community members who lost their jobs or are encountering financial difficulties due to COVID-19, while Lorain County Community College (LCCC) is cooperating with corporate partners to continue work apprenticeships and development programs.

"The mission of a community college is to serve the greatest needs of the community," said Tracy Green, vice president of strategic and institutional development at LCCC. "There's no greater need than health and safety; second to that is economic recovery. Being able to work stronger together is one of the silver linings of this situation."