By LISA MONTI
Mississippi small businesses have some new high tech help thanks to a unique partnership recently formed between the U.S. Small Business Administration and a group of major technology companies.
The Small Business Technology Coalition announced March 30 will give small businesses “a streamlined interface to connect to innovative technology platforms as well as digital education and enterprise training,” according to the SBA.
The coalition includes such big names as Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, and will help entrepreneurs to learn about what resources and technology are available to connect businesses to customers and to conduct online business safety. Goals include cybersecurity protection, better customer service and improved shopping experiences, the SBA said.
The SBA and its coalition partners will be working over the coming months on technology tools that owners can put to work for their small businesses. Information sharing will include webinars, training sessions, cases studies and best-practices roundtables hosted by SBA. Topics will include social media marketing, cyber security, managing mobile content, commerce and other relevant areas of interest.
“We strive to help businesses grow in Mississippi and across the Southeast. The Small Business Technology Coalition provides small businesses with proven, qualified tools to assist them in reaching their entrepreneurial goals. I salute the corporations who have signed on to this initiative as well as the small business owners who utilize this advantageous initiative,” says Cassius F. Butts, regional administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration.
Tracy Terrill, chief digital officer at the SBA, said, “Whether they are selling quilts or cloud solutions, businesses need access to digital tools and capabilities to be competitive. Our goal at the SBA is to ensure that entrepreneurs and small business owners are aware of digital resources designed to simplify administrative, legal, and technology challenges required to scale their businesses.”
SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet described the coalition as groundbreaking and said the public-private partnership that will help entrepreneurs be competitive from the start of their venture.
“SBA started this effort with our ‘Startup in a Day’ initiative in mind, coordinating across federal, state and local government to cut red tape and simplify the process of starting a business,” Contreras-Sweet said. “Now, with the launch of this coalition, America’s startups will also have the digital tools they need to take their first steps toward success.”
The list of participating companies includes Box, LegalZoom, Salesforce and Benefits. More are expected to join the effort to assist small businesses adopt modern technologies.
“Small businesses play a vital role in the U.S. economy, but without IT departments or dedicated resources, they often don’t have access or expertise to deploy the best technology to grow and scale their business,” said Karen Appleton, senior vice president of industries at Box. “By joining the coalition, Box is committed to providing modern, cloud technology tools and education that will empower small businesses across America to achieve their greatest ambitions.”
Cindy Bates, Microsoft vice president of small and midsized business, said studies show that businesses that leverage modern technology grow 15 percent faster than those that do not. “We look forward to sharing how small businesses can harness the power of technology such as the Microsoft Cloud to grow and succeed in business,” she said.
For more information on the Small Business Technology Coalition go to: www.sba.gov/techcoalition.