A Rural Business Development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow the Southern Campus to provide supportive services and workshops to innovators and entrepreneurs from southeast Ohio.

A Rural Business Development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow the Southern Campus to provide supportive services and workshops to innovators and entrepreneurs from southeast Ohio.

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Southern Campus faculty developing workshop series to help small businesses


IRONTON, Ohio – A new federal grant awarded to Ohio University Southern will provide training for small and emerging businesses over the next year. The Rural Business Development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow the Southern Campus to provide supportive services and workshops to innovators and entrepreneurs from southeast Ohio. 

“Many small businesses need technical assistance but have limited resources for special training,” said Dr. Nicole Pennington, dean of Ohio University Southern. “The USDA grant will allow us to provide workshops to help strengthen small businesses in our community at no cost to them,” she said.

The grant award includes $99,499 in USDA funds plus Southern Campus matching funds of $103,576, which brings the total project value to $203,075. The funds will allow the campus to purchase special equipment and develop curriculum that will be delivered in workshop format in two critical topic areas.

“The workshops will provide training on developing sound marketing strategies and exploring technologies that may enhance business operations,” said Sarah Diamond Burroway, director of external relations for Ohio University Southern. These areas were chosen as cornerstones for the project because often new businesses stagnate or fail without successful marketing strategies and they might not have resources to experiment with new technologies that could help propel them through their start-up years. 

Burroway said innovators, entrepreneurs and emerging businesses today must be visible in the marketplace as well as flexible and capable of incorporating technology into their work or risk being left behind.

“New and emerging businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators are key to growing our local economy,” Pennington said. “We hope through the USDA grant that our project will enhance existing economic development efforts in our region,” she said.

The Southern Campus is seeking area innovators, entrepreneurs and small business owners who are interested in participating in the non-credit workshops. Sessions will be scheduled and publicized in the coming months and will be offered at no cost to participants. Faculty members Mary Lou Malone and Don Moore will work closely with Diamond Burroway on the project. 

Persons interested in the grant-funded training sessions may call 740-533-4593 or email burroway@ohio.edu for more information.

The USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas which will employ 50 or fewer new employees and have less than $1 million in gross revenue.