During the pandemic, a common term heard among busines owners in Miami-Dade County and around South Florida is “pivot.” Retailers have pivoted to focus on more online sales, other businesses have pivoted to roll out new products or services, and restaurants have pivoted to offering more delivery or take out service. The businesses have pivoted to generate sales, maintain payroll and keep operations running.
Just as local businesses have pivoted to weather the pandemic, the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center (Pino Center) under FIU’s College of Business has itself successfully pivoted during the pandemic to better assist local businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Focus on Promoting Local Entrepreneurship
FIU Business’ commitment to entrepreneurship began more than 16 years ago with the founding of the Pino Center, which fosters new technology firms, strengthens existing family-owned and managed firms, and encourages new community enterprises to improve the economic vitality of South Florida and the Americas. A key area for the center is organizing educational programs and networking events, in partnership with its sister center the Florida SBDC at FIU Business. Florida SBDC at FIU provides one-on-one business consulting through a team of business specialists in areas such as business strategy, marketing, access to capital and government contracting.
Between 2014 and 2019, the Pino Center organized 149 events for 4,884 attendees. Events covered such topics as financial management, international trade, business operations, and launching a business. Since 2019, the center has incorporated additional webinar offerings and posting recorded webinars on its YouTube page to make content more accessible for businesses around Miami-Dade County and in South Florida.
Recognizing the success with recent trainings, the Pino Center’s Junior Special Events Manager Briana Williams in October received the FSBDC Network State of Florida Ambassador of the Year Award. The annual award recognizes an employee from the network for their special initiative and outstanding contributions towards customer engagement, customer service.
As businesses pivoted and shifted to remote work due to COVID-19, online trainings became a necessity for all groups to reach local businesses. During the pandemic, the Pino Center and FSBDC at FIU stepped up efforts to bring trainings to local businesses. In particular, the center has organized 55 webinars for over 3,564 attendees since the pandemic started – over 2,100 more attendees than all of last year’s events combined and 85 percent of its total attendees from the last five years.
Webinar topics focused heavily on navigating COVID-19 disaster relief programs, digital marketing, business strategy and HR/business operations – all areas key for businesses during the pandemic. Partners on these webinars included the Marathon Chamber of Commerce, the South Dade Chamber of Commerce, TD Bank, and Alpha & Omega Church among others.
For the Pino and FSBDC at FIU teams, the hard work spent organizing the numerous webinars is balanced by the strong community response to the trainings. They also expect webinars to be a big part of the center’s future offerings when the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.
“Businesses in South Florida are resilient and have faced down hurricanes, Zika, red tide and now a pandemic,” said Brian Van Hook, Regional Director, Florida SBDC at FIU. “Just as they are adapting and are building stronger businesses than when the pandemic started, we are looking to ‘practice what we preach’ and ensure webinar trainings are a big part of our strategy post-pandemic.”