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EforAll Seeking Applicants for 'Digital Business Survival Course'

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County is collaborating with R3SET Studios to run a free online "Digital Business Survival Course" to help small businesses improve their online marketing. 
 
"With all of the many restrictions on business during the pandemic, having a robust web presence, sales and outreach are truly mission-critical," said EforAll Director Deborah Gallant. "If your business was limping along with a sub-par web marketing approach before all this, it became a much higher priority to get this all in order."
 
This five-week course runs from March 12 to April 16.
 
Gallant said EforAll, a nonprofit program that uses public-private partnerships to provide entrepreneurs with resources and local mentors, has found online marketing is an area in which a lot of small businesses need help. 
 
"The problem is that there is a lot of information out there and people who will charge you to 'fix' things, but no comprehensive programs with built-in assistance and accountability to implement change immediately," she said. 
 
Gallant said EforAll Leadership Advisory Board member John Lewis, of R3SET Studios, suggested developing this program in the spring. Gallant said R3SET provides the "technical backbone" and production support for the program.
 
An early iteration of the program ran last June. Gallant said this time around classes will be spread out over a longer period of time. Last summer, the program was every weekday for two consecutive weeks. 
 
This program will run over five weeks with two required meetings per week. It includes topics such as website design and implementation, e-commerce, email marketing, social media, and video and content creation, among others.
 
"Since everyone starts at a different place, their individual goals and achievements will all be different," Gallant said. "But we hope to help them get their arms around their web strategy and what is really important to their bottom line and then make tangible progress toward implementing it."
 
The program is funded by the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., Mass Growth Capital Corporation and Google. The program will be offered at no charge to participants and will include both "lectures," and intensive work in small groups led by digital specialists, experts in web marketing.  
 
The virtual program learning is being coordinated and facilitated by Pittsfield's Noah Cook-Dubin of Kanoa Consulting, a former Google executive. 
 
"Noah Cook-Dubin of Kanoa Consulting has taken over as facilitator, bringing his deep experience to bear on all elements of the learning and offering access via weekly office hours," Gallant said. 
 
The program will be virtual with lectures and break-out group sessions.
 
"Our pods are the heart of the learning," Gallant said. "You log on right then and there with your fellow group members and your digital specialist and really work on your web marketing. Rewrite your copy, build a new website, add credit card processing. It is a natural online experience and worked really well last time."
 
There are 20 spots open and businesses can sign up here. The deadline is March 1. Successful completion of the program will earn participants a $100 advertising grant to promote their business.
 
"The pandemic has been really tough for small businesses but we are delighted to see the spirit of entrepreneurship continue to thrive here in the Berkshires," Gallant said. "We are glad to be able to offer connections, education and resources to keep our area's economy growing and flourishing...now and when COVID is in our rear-view mirror."

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Veteran Spotlight: Sgt. Maj. Michael King

By Wayne SoaresSpecial to iBerkshires
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — This week's Veteran Spotlight subject is retired Army Sgt. Maj. Michael King, who now leads the Berkshire Veteran Outreach Center.
 
King grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and served his country from 1993 to 2015. He enlisted at the age of 18 and was sent to basic training at Fort McClellan, Ala. 
 
"It was definitely a culture shock," he recalled. "I learned about biscuits and gravy from the mess hall, which I found delicious ... remember an obscene amount of heat and humidity."
 
King's first assignment was at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where he served in law enforcement as an military police officer. From there, King was assigned to the former Johnston Island Air Force Base — 800 miles southwest of Hawaii — that is now a wildlife preserve.
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