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Refocus 2021 to aid small businesses

A new program is aiming to aid small businesses in Prince Edward and Cumberland counties as they execute coronavirus-driven pivots to their operations.

Called Refocus 2021, the program is a creation of the Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in partnership with the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Farmville Downtown Partnership.

Businesses in Cumberland and Prince Edward are eligible to join the initial pilot cohort of Refocus 2021 thanks to CARES Act funding from the Small Business Administration, a press release from the SBDC said.

The program is set to provide extensive support in the form of free consulting, marketing and financial incentives for businesses in the retail, restaurant and hospitality sectors.

Selected businesses will receive professional consulting services free of charge along with unique access to networking, education and co-marketing discounts.

Each participant is expected to leave the program with a solid action plan of concrete steps for the owner and consultant as well as structured follow-up support.

After a process which features an intake screening and a professionally-led focus group experience, high level consultants will help business owners choose an area of focus and develop a tactical operations or marketing plan.

The release adds businesses will then be supported in the implementation of their strategy. Those who complete the program will receive free co-marketing opportunities and other financial incentives through the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Farmville Downtown Partnership. The base package value, according to the release, is estimated at $7,000.

The pilot program will be open to a limited number of businesses. Selection criteria will include the scalability of the business, management’s desire to grow, ability and capacity to commit the time to the program and implementation and the potential to benefit the broader local economy.

“We saw that many of our Farmville-area businesses in these heavily impacted sectors have had to adapt, whether it’s curbside pickup, delivery, or virtual services,” Anne Tyler Paulek, chamber executive director, said. “They’ve had to move quickly, and now, by enlisting the help of the SBDC, our goal is to help them evaluate and optimize these adjustments for long-term success.”

“We believe this blend of offerings is just the right mix to help our local economy refocus for a successful 2021 and beyond,” Sheri McGuire, Longwood SBDC director, said.

McGuire added ideal applicants are businesses in any sector who have a desire and potential capacity to creatively expand their business. An ideal applicant, she said, also welcomes an opportunity to dig deep and examine their business model for unique opportunities to expand their customer base and strategically improve operations.

The release adds interested businesses should visit https://sbdc-longwood.com/refocus2021 to apply. The application deadline is February 22.