To help small business owners in the Crossroads find ways to keep their companies afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center is using funds from the federal CARES Act to offer a free Master Class virtual series.

The new Master Class series will bring in experts to share their knowledge in four key areas to help small business owners and entrepreneurs find ways to survive and thrive in the current economic situation, UHV SBDC Director Lindsay Young said. The series began earlier this year with sessions focused on QuickBooks business accounting software. It will continue through September with three additional tracks: restaurants, marketing and growing retail.

“When the UHV SBDC staff members were looking for ways we could help small business owners through CARES Act funds, we decided to offer specific courses in areas that are heavily impacted that we haven’t been able to offer much training for in the past,” Young said. “The funding allows us to bring in consultants and speakers at no cost to attendees.”

The next workshop in the series will be “Restaurant Reality 2020” with Chris Tripoli, a Houston-area restaurant consultant, from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday. Tripoli has more than 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry as a designer, concept developer, owner and operator, and is the founder of A’la Carte Foodservice Consulting Group. During the session, he will share information about current trends in restaurants, some of the challenges restaurants are facing in today’s economy, and how some are finding success during the pandemic.

In January, the UHV SBDC will host a presentation by Robert Royer, owner of Building Brands Marketing. The workshop will be “Top Seven Marketing Strategies for 2021” and will be from 1 to 2 p.m. Jan 14. The session will focus on marketing trends and how to use strategies such as search engine optimization and artificial intelligence to succeed.

February will kick off Sales Accelerator, a 12-week intensive course led by Stephanie Scheller, of Grow Disrupt, a sales training company. The course will focus on how business owners can build sales of goods and services during the pandemic. To attend this workshop, attendees need to submit an application at survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07ehdvkg3rkgwpfloi/a003ki68jehr/questions.

“We want to help small business owners find ways to adjust,” said Jean Smith, UHV SBDC training coordinator. “The pandemic and business closures have already had such a major negative impact. We want to give people tools to overcome that impact and keep moving forward.”

More workshops will be scheduled throughout the year. To register to attend the virtual workshops, go to www.uhv.edu/small-business. For more information, contact Smith at 361-485-4489 or smithje@uhv.edu.

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