By Ryan Mapes, Endeavor Center Manager and Business Development Network Program Leader
At the statewide SBDC conference, two of our team members won Peer Awards. Congratulations to Chris Smalley for winning the Innovation Award for his work with Aquaculture Boot Camp by teaching business principles to participants each month. Congratulations also to Melissa Carter for winning the Marketing Award for her work assisting Southern Ohio businesses with digital marketing and website development. Both awards are well deserved!
Aquaculture Boot Camp has been developed to assist new and emerging aquaculture farmers understand the technical aspects of establishing and raising various species of fish at their farms to diversify their enterprises. This program is a yearlong intensive course that meets at the OSU South Centers monthly for a day of training. Time has been set aside at each class for the attendees to learn the business aspects of these new operations. Chris Smalley develops and teaches business courses that provide general business information to these farmers. He has created financial projections, marketing ideas, and sample business plans with specific assumptions for the Aquaculture industry, individual fish species, and various systems that can be put in place. He also recruits key resource individuals to speak in class about financial options to explore starting aquaculture facilities, how to market the product direct to consumer or wholesale, and ways to increase profitability. This partnership with the Aquaculture Program at the OSU South Centers has led to a new client base and attendees have benefited from not only learning the aquaculture for diversification opportunities but also understanding the business related principles to start this new venture.
Melissa Carter has created a niche offering to SBDC clients in Southern Ohio by developing and enhancing online marketing potential. Many clients are recognizing the need for online presence and diversifying how and where they sell their goods and services. Melissa works with clients to develop and/or enhance informational/basic websites, Etsy stores, and social media platforms. Through Wix and Weebly template based website creation pages, Melissa has created or enhanced over 15 different websites in the past year. This includes building a template from information gathered from the client, teaching the client how to utilize the site, and managing the site’s analytics and SEO. Additionally, she works to increase visibility on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and through Google Business, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. By offering these marketing services to the SBDC clients, an increased awareness and visibility of the SBDC offerings as a whole has been established. Clients are referred to Melissa for marketing assistance and then are established as long term through the continual growth of online presence. Melissa speaks at local and regional events about online marketing which allows business to also learn the various services the SBDC offers. A recent highlight for Melissa is that she presented an online marketing class in September at the 2017 America’s Small Business Development Center National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.