Champlain College Joins State Efforts to Save Small Businesses

The College’s involvement in a new Vermont program will help revitalize community businesses in the face of COVID-19 pandemic challenges.

The Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Champlain College’s Stiller School of Business has been selected as a partner in Vermont’s Small Business Recovery Technical Assistance Program. CIE and Champlain’s other Centers of Experience are collaborative hubs where students from all majors work in teams with experts in their chosen field. In them, students can put their classroom knowledge to use by working on important projects for clients in the Burlington area and beyond.

On September 18, 2020, Governor Phil Scott announced the implementation of the Small Business Recovery Technical Assistance Program. Organized and led by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, this program was allotted $2.5 million from the state’s federally supplied COVID Relief Fund to support small Vermont businesses in their recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Businesses can access free technical business assistance in marketing, IT, strategy, and more, from a handful of partner organizations, including Champlain’s Centers of Experience. 

Zeke Terkiel, ’20 // Computer Networking & Cybersecurity, interned in two Centers of Experience during his time at Champlain, where he collaborated on business and digital forensics projects.

“This pandemic was so different from anything we had experienced before,” said Agency Commissioner Joan Goldstein. “For many of these businesses it isn’t just a lack of funds; it’s a complete reconfiguration of their business, so we couldn’t just issue grants—we needed to provide technical assistance.”

The 12 Regional Development Corporations (RDCs) throughout Vermont will have people on hand to act as designated Navigators, pointing business owners toward technical assistance. Five partner organizations will be providing specialized expertise and services to help companies survive and thrive amid the ongoing pandemic. 

The program provides businesses with access to experts in several areas including:

business operations, financial management, and grant writing;

digital strategies;

• architecture and physical space design;

reconfiguring manufacturing equipment and processes and incorporating safety measures;

• technology and software consulting; and

legal, marketing, and other professional services.

Champlain has the distinction of being one of those five partner organizations. Our Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE), Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry, Leahy Center for Digital Forensics & Cybersecurity, and Emergent Media Center are joining forces to act as Navigators and service providers, aiding the small business community in adapting to an ever-changing public health environment. 

“We’re doing what we can to support Vermont businesses hit by the pandemic because this work aligns directly with the missions and values of both the Robert P. Stiller School of Business and Champlain College,” says Dr. Scott H. Baker, Dean of the Stiller School of Business. “We are honored to be able to provide consultative and technical assistance from our highly skilled students, faculty, and staff.”

“Our goal with this grant is to increase our role as thought-leaders in the Vermont community by harnessing the combined expertise of Champlain’s various Centers of Experience,” said Dr. Kylie King, Assistant Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship and Academic Director of the CIE. 

Dr. Kylie King, Assistant Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship and Academic Director of the CIE.

Our Centers of Experience are well known for providing Champlain students with real-world experience and connections with real clients from as early as their first semester of college. This amazing ability won’t change with Champlain’s involvement in the program. In fact, students will have the opportunity to participate and make an even greater impact than before. 

“A student working with the CIE could help a company research new markets that could be of interest,” said Dr. Cyrus Patten, Assistant Dean of the Stiller School of Business. “Another student could help with putting together new marketing strategies or researching different adaptations to help a business recover or navigate their organization through COVID-19.” 

“If we have a team of students that are experts in logo design at the EMC, and a company comes in needing help with a new logo, they can work directly with the company to do so,” added Dr. King. 

These students will be supported by a top-notch team; one of the greatest assets of Champlain is the fact that most faculty are either still working part-time in the industry or have years of industry experience that they bring into the classroom. Many of these faculty members are actively involved with our Centers of Experience and contribute an impressive level of innovation and expertise to these spaces. The creative ideas and solution-oriented thinking that these professionals bring to their classrooms will now be accessible to more community stakeholders—and these faculty members are pleased to be working to support Vermont’s economy.

Champlain seniors in Visual Communication Design display their capstone design projects last year.

“We have the opportunity here to leverage our internal expertise at Champlain,” noted Dr. Patten. “We have so many faculty and students that are full of knowledge and are going to be amazing assets to these small businesses that we will work with through this program.”

For more information on the Small Business Recovery Technical Assistance Program, visit the ACCD’s website. For more information on Champlain’s involvement in the program or to apply for assistance, please visit our website.

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