The Lehigh University Small Business Development Center has been awarded $515,419 from the CARES Act funding grant by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center.
The funding comes through the U.S. Small Business Administration to help mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small-business owners. The funds will provide Lehigh University SBDC the opportunity to expand services to assist businesses dealing with the disruptions caused by the pandemic in the Lehigh Valley area.
“We have had 530 new clients since March,” said Brett Smith, Lehigh SBDC director. “This grant allows us to expand our staff and our programs to the point of making a tangible impact on COVID-19 effected businesses in the Lehigh Valley.” Smith said it will allow his center to add a human touch to its services. “We will be able to take the time and listen to our business partners one-on-one.”
Lehigh SBDC is part of a 16-center network located in education institutions throughout Pennsylvania. Part of this funding was set aside to award nine of the centers, considered Centers of Excellence, as special recognition for creative programming and collaboration. As a network, PASBDC will provide industry sector specific specialized programs and services to industries and core areas most severely impacted in the state.
Lehigh SBDC will use a portion of the funding to instruct small business owners using a system called GrowthWheel, which helps startups and growth companies build and refine their business plans through an online platform and tool kit.
“Our center will have the tools and the manpower to help businesses reopen and prepare for the potential second round of COVID-19,” said Georgette Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business. “Lehigh SBDC is more than a website that can be out of date the minute you read it. Our experienced counselors are our strength.”
Lehigh SBDC is one of eight centers and institutes the College of Business operates, where students and faculty collaborate on real world, relevant business issues, while accessing and contributing to the college’s body of research.
Since 1978, Lehigh SBDC has consulted with hundreds of businesses in Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks and Montgomery counties at no cost. They have programs and services that include management assistance, international trade development, government marketing, financing assistance and more.
Story by Rob Gerth