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Town halls will focus on mitigating COVID’s impact

Special guest panelists from the Armed Forces Chamber of Commerce and from the Nevada Department of Business and Industry will share their insights on COVID’s effects on consumers and small businesses, and possible ways to mitigate those effects, at the next two virtual town halls for small businesses being offered by University of Nevada, Reno Extension.

The English-language town hall is at 9 a.m. Nov. 4, and will feature Andre’ Haynes, founder and CEO of the Armed Forces Chamber of Commerce, along with panelists from the Small Business Administration and Extension. The Armed Forces Chamber is a nonprofit organization that helps armed forces members or former members succeed in business.

In less than four years, it has acquired 1,860 members and provided $2.5 million in member-funded loans. Haynes will discuss the chamber’s work and services as well as provide insights on the effects of COVID-19 on businesses over the past six months and what the organization’s members have been doing in response.

The Spanish-language town hall is at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18, and will feature Miriam Hickerson, ombudsman of consumer affairs for minorities at the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, as well as panelists from the Small Business Administration and Extension. Hickerson is also founder and CEO of Nevada Consumer Advocates, a consulting company providing services to individuals seeking help with consumer fraud and deceptive trade practice complaints. She will share consumer insights she has gathered during the pandemic, including shifts in consumer education and resolving consumer issues.

“Our guest panelists at these upcoming town halls have been in the trenches the last six months, dealing with our business owners and consumers, and helping them navigate through this unprecedented time that has posed so many unique challenges,” said Buddy Borden, economic development specialist with Extension’s Business Development Program. “They have gained a lot of insight that I think our town hall participants can benefit from as they continue to plow through this challenging year.”

The Extension has been offering a series of online town halls and webinars for small businesses, “Coping With COVID-19,” since April.

For English speakers, “The Armed Forces Chamber of Commerce and Insights on the Effects of COVID-19 on Businesses,” is 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4. In addition to Haynes, panelists will include Small Business Administration Deputy District Director Saul Ramos, UNR Extension business development instructors Reyna Mendez and Juan Salas and Extension research associate Mike Bindrup.

For Spanish speakers, “Consumer Insights and Issues Amid COVID-19,” is 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18. Along with Hickerson, panelists will include Small Business Administration outreach/marketing specialist Alfredo Cedeno along with Mendez, Salas and Bindrup.

The town halls usually run about an hour. To register for the English-language town hall, go to https://unrextension.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_JCbJPzTJQwG8_nReWl8OGA.

For the Spanish-language town hall, go to https://unrextension.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_bizmJwvrT_SHPAP-lgIJvQ

For more information, go to the Extension Business Development Program website at extension.unr.edu/busdev. There are also other resources at the website to assist businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, email Borden at bordenb@unr.edu

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