GV students provide aid for local small businesses during pandemic

Michigan's Small Business Development Center Banner // Courtesy to sbdcmichigan.org

Michigan's Small Business Development Center Banner // Courtesy to sbdcmichigan.org

Adam Trombley, Staff Reporter

As COVID-19 is sweeping across the United States, many businesses have been affected by the lockdowns. Many small businesses felt the financial impact from the pandemic, some right here in West Michigan. The Michigan Small Business Development Center and students from Grand Valley State University are trying to help out these local businesses get back on their feet, while also finding their passion for helping others.

Qi ‘Shaun Coyle, Program Coordinator for the SBDC, said that when she started working in her position at the SBDC, it was important to her to have a direct impact in the work she was doing and for her to be a lending ear to businesses to help them flourish and grow.

“This is their livelihood, and this is how they maintain their lives and the wellbeing of their families,” Coyle said. “Seeing the widespread effect of what we’re doing has been really impactful on me.”

Programs like the SBDC help small businesses locate funds and other services to help get an economic grounding.

Kyle Bezy, Lead Student Office Assistant at the West Michigan branch of the SBDC, has been able to learn skills for the future by helping the local businesses and community through the work he has done.

“I’ve had so many interactions with clients, and I think that all really helped me with dealing with different businesses and clients when I’m a CPA,” Bezy said. “Even though I’m not the one who is helping them apply for programs, just to say yes there is something available and someone who can help you, let’s get this scheduled for you. I’m not the business consultant but I’m still helping them get in touch with the resources they need.”

Along with learning good work habits and experience throughout his time with the SBDC, his position showed him what these small businesses mean to the communities they are in. Even though he is not originally from the west side of Michigan, he is excited to work with people in the community after he graduates.

“Knowing their impact on the community and to all the people living there, they really have a strong meaning and purpose to the community,” Bezy said. “It’s really nice to see how much support there is out there for small businesses.”

Though the contact method has changed between businesses and the SBDC, the West Michigan branch has hosted webinars and virtual meetings in order to help these local businesses. Many owners of small businesses were happy with the quick responses from the SBDC and they were thankful for the services they were offering for free.

“A lot of our businesses and a lot of what we’ve been hearing is that people are happy that when they call us, they were able to get someone,” Coyle said. “When you submit a request for counseling through our website, we are sure to get back to people within 24 hours and go ahead and get them set up for an appointment.

Coyle said the West Michigan region of the SBDC has been able to help small businesses in 13 different counties across western Michigan by providing training, consulting, and research assistance to the businesses that need help.

“We made sure our services and our consultants were available to assist small businesses and small business owners however they need assistance,” Coyle said. “We immediately transitioned to doing our consulting virtually and by phone, so small businesses could get our services.”

With many businesses reaching out and getting help from the SBDC, many new businesses are starting to come together and open as we face an uncertain future. The financial impact may be felt even after the pandemic, but small businesses in western Michigan can always receive help from the SBDC.