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ASBTDC Receives Grant to Help Businesses

The Arkansas Tech University Small Business Technology Development Center has received a $100,000 grant to offer Fort Smith-area hospitality businesses enhanced opportunities.

 

The Arkansas Tech University Small Business Technology Development Center has received a $100,000 grant to offer Fort Smith-area hospitality businesses enhanced opportunities.

The project is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and allows the Arkansas Tech University Small Business Technology Development Center to partner with the lead office of the ASBTDC at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in assisting Fort Smith- area businesses interested in increasing their online presence.

“We are pleased to be able to help hospitality businesses in Sebastian County improve their skill sets in the ‘mission critical’ area of attracting customers via the Internet. This initiative comes at the right time for the community,” said Dr. Ed Bashaw, dean of the Arkansas Tech University College of Business, which houses the Arkansas Tech ASBTDC.

“Area businesses are coping with a smaller local customer base due to recent plant closures and job losses,” said Janet Roderick, ASBTDC state director. “With consumers increasingly turning to the Internet to find information about products, services and travel, Arkansas small businesses need to understand who their ideal customers are and beef up their online presence to reach those customers.”

Through the grant, the ASBTDC will offer hands-on instruction using an iPad lab at 16 free seminars in the Fort Smith area. Topics covered during the seminars include marketing a business on TripAdvisor and Yelp, making websites mobile-friendly and developing a social media strategy. The first seminar is set for Nov. 14.

In order to help businesses better develop a marketing message, the group will also analyze Sebastian County visitor information in order to compile reports that give local business owners insight into visitors’ preferences and buying patterns.

“Our goal is to strengthen Sebastian County small businesses by giving them tools and skills they can use to reach more customers and increase sales,” Roderick said. “Adopting new technology and communicating online is critical to staying competitive in both the local and global economy.”

In addition, business owners can take advantage of ASBTDC’s free, one-on-one consulting services. Help available includes advice on operating challenges existing businesses face, such as maximizing profits and cash flow, and loan proposal assistance for businesses pursuing financing.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center program is a partnership of the SBA and the UALR College of Business. Through a statewide network of seven offices, ASBTDC assists start-ups, existing businesses, expanding businesses and technology businesses. The center at Arkansas Tech serves nine counties in the River Valley region.

Visit the Arkansas Tech University Small Business Technology Development Center website.

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