Conductor receives USDA rural business development grant for Level Up program

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 691 views 

Conway-based The Conductor has partnered with Main Street Arkansas to provide Level Up, a small business support program for rural entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19.

This project is funded by a USDA Rural Business Development Grant and will involve technical assistance workshops, individualized coaching, and the creation of a rural mentor network. Sessions will be held virtually to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and all content will be recorded and distributed to rural entrepreneurs who are unable to stream the program due to broadband constraints.

“Downtown businesses have been hit especially hard due to COVID-19,” said Tiffany Henry, Director of Entrepreneurial Communities at the Conductor. “The generous funding from the USDA allows us to help ‘Level Up’ rural entrepreneurs and communities by providing specialized assistance and support. By distributing recorded content we are also able to overcome infrastructure barriers that are seen in the most underserved communities.”

The Level Up program partners with Main Street Arkansas, which utilizes the Main Street “Four-Point Approach” to downtown revitalization – Organization, Promotion, Design, and Economic Vitality. Technical assistance topics will center on these four points and include information on e-commerce, leadership, marketing, budgeting, finance, and storefront design. In addition, training will be provided to local Main Street and community leaders on entrepreneurial ecosystem building and strategies for increasing small business activity.

“Partnerships play a crucial role in providing direct, strategic and comprehensive services to small businesses during this critical time,” said Greg Phillips, Director of Main Street Arkansas. “Utilizing Main Street Arkansas’s 36 years of experience supporting and cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit through small businesses in historic downtowns, we are excited to be a partner to the Conductor in implementing “Level Up”. This partnership will jointly enhance and extend technical assistance and small business expertise to rural entrepreneurs across the state.”

Level Up participants will also join a rural mentor program to support entrepreneurs as they start, grow, or pivot their businesses. Mentors will represent retail, restaurant, finance, and product development sectors and be available for no cost consulting.

The program is open and free to participate for any entrepreneur or community leader in the following counties: Conway, Perry, Johnson, Lonoke, Logan, Cleburne, Van Buren, Pope, Yell, and White.

The first cohort of Level Up is anticipated to begin in late fall. For more information about Level Up or to bring the program to your community, please contact Tiffany Henry at [email protected].