The VI Small Business Development Center (VI SBDC) received a $50,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in June. This grant will be used to complete phase two of the VI SBDC’s video conferencing upgrade at the St. Croix Service Center. The upgrade will increase the center’s ability to deliver training through a multipoint system, which will allow VI SBDC trainings to be seen from multiple locations.
“At the newly renovated center, the small business community will have access to improved, high quality, and reliable communication technology to further their business’ efficiency,” said VI SBDC State Director Leonor Dottin. “With access to the upgraded training facility, small businesses will be able to increase their viability locally and globally.”
It is estimated that 250 business owners a year will receive training via video conference. The service center will be able to host up to 60 people in the state-of-the-art video conferencing training facilities. The VI SBDC hopes to promote the rental of the facilities for specialized trainings. In addition to helping small businesses, the VI SBDC expects to generate income through the rental of the facility to both the public and private sector.
“Obtaining this grant is extremely rewarding,” said Dottin. “It has been a long process of paperwork and approvals. I thank UVI President Dr. David Hall, the UVI Board of Trustees, my team at the VI SBDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s team, who have been working very closely for two years on the grant application, for all their hard work. It is gratifying to see the project nearing a positive completion.”
The renovations are expected to begin in December 2014 and are not expected to interrupt the day-to-day operation of the VI SBDC. However, video conferencing may be affected for five to 10 days.In November 2012, the St. Thomas Service Center received a similar upgrade through a regular VI SBDC grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and funding allocated through UVI. The VI SBDC is a partnership program of UVI and the SBA.