Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Suffolk Forward, a package of five integrated programs to support small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. The programs, which were created in conjunction with Stony Brook University College of Business, are designed to help Suffolk County businesses adjust and respond to the current business climate and close critical gaps in available resources.
“While industries have been forced to adapt their operations, it has also exposed how many lack the technology capabilities to transition to virtual or online services,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “Suffolk Forward is an exciting new partnership that will allow local businesses to leverage expertise and resources to improve their operations and IT infrastructure. I thank Stony Brook University for working together on this initiative that will offer students real-world experience and help struggling businesses navigate the changing business climate due to the Coronavirus.”
Dr. Manuel London, Dean of the College of Business at Stony Brook University, said: “An important role for Stony Brook’s College of Business is to do all we can to support economic Development on Long Island. This is particularly critical now. We look forward to partnering with Suffolk County on this initiative.”
The Suffolk Forward program is a suite of services that bridges the road to recovery and a stronger, better business community. Through the various programs, businesses will have the opportunity to learn new ways to increase their revenue, be connected to talented workforce, enhance their technology tools, refine their business model, and get individualized expert business advice.
As part of the program, Suffolk County and its partners will send a needs assessment survey to the top three most impacted sectors, which have been identified as the restaurant, retail, and construction industries. Stony Brook University will review the responses, reach out to deliver the services requested and report and track the results.
The first initiative is the Suffolk Forward Gift Card Platform, which provides a one stop shop for Suffolk County residents to pre-purchase goods and services to support local retail and services businesses during the pandemic. The platform, which was created by Huntington-based technology company eGifter, is free for businesses to participate. To purchase gift cards online, or to have your business feature on the web platform, click here.
The second initiative is the Suffolk Forward Job Board, which provide Suffolk County Residents with access to regional job opportunities and businesses with a pool of talented applicants searching for new employment opportunities. Additional details will be forthcoming as Suffolk County works to launch this new resource.
The last three initiatives provide small businesses with support and education services delivered by Stony Brook University designed to meet the challenges identified by small businesses. These initiatives include the Tech Enhancement Program, the Suffolk Forward “Pandemic Shift” Business Workshops, and the Suffolk Forward Virtual Expert Network.
Through the Tech Enhancement Program, local businesses can identify their business technology needs and Stony Brook University business, computer science and IT students, under the direction of faculty, will assess the technology needs of each business and advise the owners on how to best implement those technologies. The lack of technology was detrimental to many local businesses as they were forced to shutter operations. By increasing technological capabilities, small businesses and downtowns can remain operational during COVID-19 and through transition to recovery.
The Suffolk Forward “Pandemic Shift” Business Workshops, which are coordinated by the Stony Brook University College of Business, offer a series of four 90-minute video workshops and peer support to help small businesses deal with four key steps: hope, survival, focus and pivot.
And lastly, the Suffolk Forward Virtual Expert Network provides small businesses with complimentary consultation via virtual office hours with Stony Brook University College of Business professors. The free sessions aim to provide business leaders the tools that could help them tackle ongoing business challenges.
Suffolk Forward complements the ongoing work of the Suffolk County Business Recovery Unit, which works to address the concerns and questions that businesses have amid the Coronavirus outbreak. Local businesses can call Suffolk 311 to be connected to the unit, email Business.Recovery@suffolkcountyny.gov, or visit the Business Recovery Unit webpage at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/bru that includes a comprehensive survey for local businesses to complete.