Extension offers weekly online town halls, webinars to help small businesses

Besides needing funds available for small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, small business owners need additional support and guidance, as well as opportunities to talk with other small business owners. University of Nevada, Reno Extension is offering virtual question-and-answer “Coping With COVID-19 Town Halls” for small businesses every Wednesday, and webinars on specific topics for small businesses every Friday. The town halls and the webinars will be offered in Spanish and English and are aimed at helping small businesses “pivot and adapt” during this challenging time.

“What we are finding is that Nevada’s small businesses are so focused on the funding aspects of their business, and they should be, that they may be overlooking other aspects and opportunities to improve their overall business, during and after COVID-19,” said Buddy Borden, economic development specialist with Extension’s Business Development Program. “Our goal is to provide resources and educational platforms to help our small businesses, statewide, cope and retool during this unprecedented pandemic. Ultimately, our goal is that when things begin to return to normal, our state’s small businesses will be even stronger.”

Borden said during the Wednesday town halls, there is usually a short presentation on a given topic or a preview of the Friday class during the first 10 minutes. Then, the participants network with one another and drive the discussion, with a panel of professionals and educators helping them troubleshoot challenges they are encountering. The Friday webinars provide information on specific topics to help businesses plan strategically, adapt and succeed. The first town hall and webinar were held last week, and Borden said there was a lot of participation from urban areas in the state, but not much from the rural communities.

“While we were really happy to connect with so many businesses in our urban areas, we really want to let our small businesses in the rural areas know that we are here to assist them as well,” Borden said. “In fact, they may need our help even more, so we want them to get online and connect with us. We’re here to help. It’s a great time to go in and reassess.”

This week’s town hall is at 9 a.m. for English speakers and at 2 p.m. for Spanish speakers, on Wednesday, April 22. Panelists will include:

Reyna Mendez, Extension business development instructor

Juan Salas, Extension business development instructor

Mike Bindrup, Extension research associate

Saul Ramos, Small Business Administration deputy district director

Marcel F. Schaerer, Nevada Department of Business & Industry deputy director

This week’s webinar, “The Canvas Model: How to Deliver Value to your Customers,” is at 9 a.m. for English speakers and at 2 p.m. for Spanish speakers, on Friday, April 24. Mendez and Salas will discuss:

• The nine essential building blocks for a successful business strategy.

• Pivoting and adapting businesses for crisis.

• Identifying customer segments.

• The Canvas Model, a method that allows businesses to create, deliver and capture value by articulating different components of the business.

Creating and developing an efficient value proposition for customers

• Attracting, building and retaining customer relationships.

Both the town halls and the webinars usually run about an hour. To register or for more information, go to the Extension Business Development Program website at There are also other resources at the website to assist businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, email Borden at

Extension is a unit of the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources engaged in Nevada communities, presenting research-based knowledge to address critical community needs. It is a county-state-federal partnership providing practical education to people, businesses and communities.

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