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VGCC Small Business Center recognized for innovation

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The Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center and its director, Sheri Jones, recently received the 2020 Innovation Award for Programs/Seminars from the North Carolina Small Business Center Network (SBCN). The award specifically recognized VGCC for creating and offering an eight-part, online webinar series entitled “Doing Business Remotely: Tools for the New Normal,” to help local small businesses respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Small Business Center collaborated with the Warren County Economic Development Commission and a local small business, Tabletop Media Group, LLC, on the series, which educated small businesses and individuals on technological tools that were mostly new to them, empowering them to communicate effectively with customers as well as employees.

“The Small Business Center of Vance-Granville Community College is fortunate to have wonderful community partners in our four county Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Offices, Downtown Development Organizations and Libraries,” Jones said. “They relay community training needs that we then try to address, and they get the word out about our programs and counseling opportunities.”

In this case, Jones recalled, the community need was first brought up by Warren County EDC Director Stacy Woodhouse. “Stacy called and asked if Kristen Baughman Taber [founder of Tabletop Media Group and a Warren County resident] and I could meet with him to talk about what we could do to help small businesses in the early days of the pandemic shutdown,” Jones said. “This webinar series was born from that conversation.”

Tools for the New Normal

The partners moved quickly to help businesses in Vance, Granville, Franklin, and Warren counties adjust to a rapidly changing situation. The state’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 30, and the webinar series began on April 7.

Baughman Taber took the lead on creating content and then teaching the interactive class. The eight parts of the series included Zoom Video Communications; Google Suite; Basecamp & Other Project Management Systems; Dropbox & Other Storage and File-sharing Tools; Scheduling Tools; Mailchimp, Constant Contact & Other Contact Management Tools; Slack & Other Collaboration Tools; and Virtual Team Building.

“Teaching the ‘Doing Business Remotely’ series brought me so much joy as an instructor during such an uncertain time in our world,” Baughman Taber said. “I was able to help so many small business owners learn how to use virtual tools to make them more effective in a world that had suddenly gone almost 100% online due to COVID-19. I believe these skills—like how to use Zoom for video conferencing, Google Drive for organizing and collaborating on documents and files, and Basecamp for project management, to name a few—will be helpful well into the future for these small business owners who attended.”

“I am appreciative of Sheri Jones and VGCC for partnering with Warren County EDC to make this timely series possible,” said EDC Director Stacy Woodhouse. “’Doing Business Remotely’ provided critical information in the midst of so much uncertainty and gave businesses the tools to move forward. We were able to utilize Warren County’s own Kristen Baughman of Tabletop Media as the instructor which gave attendees another valuable resource to follow up with post-class.”

“We congratulate and applaud Sheri for this award and for all her hard work to support the small businesses in our service area,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC. “This year, our Small Business Center and other college departments have partnered with the community to solve practical problems and meet the unique demands of the pandemic. We will continue to be here as a resource for our communities to promote economic recovery.”

About the VGCC Small Business Center

The VGCC Small Business Center, part of a network of centers found at all 58 North Carolina Community Colleges, was created to provide the small businesses of the community with a focal point for training, education, counseling and referral. Jones has served as director since 2019.

For more information about Small Business Center seminars and services, contact Sheri Jones at joness@vgcc.edu or 252-738-3240.

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