Craig-area organizations form Smart Business Alliance

Christina Oxley, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said the newly formed Smart Business Alliance has a simple goal.

The consortium — which includes the Chamber, the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, the Colorado Workforce Center and Colorado Northwestern Community College — seeks to streamline information on upcoming classes and courses that could benefit small business owners and workers.

Oxley said the Smart Business Alliance began with a question.

“We’re all doing different things to serve these businesses,” she said of the classes. “How can we get on the same page with this?”

The answer is both figurative and literal.

The group’s first project is a brochure, which includes information on course offerings from CNCC, the Chamber, EDP and the Workforce Center.

Oxley said reaching out to business owners and their employees is sometimes difficult.

“We have these classes and services that are really of benefit to businesses, and we’re just not conveying it,” she said. “So, we talked about how to make this one-stop shopping.”

Oxley said the idea originated with Mary Morris, CNCC director of community education and public information.

However, Morris shies away from Oxley’s claim.

“It’s not my brainchild,” Morris said. “It’s just a collaborative effort to get us all together so we can maximize the use of our resources.

“We all need to work together to sustain and build our economy.”

The Chamber is offering one-day classes in social networking for businesses, generations in the workplace and hospitality.

EDP is offering classes in marketing, supervision, tax tips and more.

The Workforce Center is offering classes in resume writing, interview skills and more.

CNCC is offering weekly one-day classes on subjects like income taxes, computerized accounting, public speaking and more. The college is also offering short courses on topics such as computers for business and home, and Excel classes for beginners and intermediates.

Kellie Dippel, CNCC extended learning and concurrent enrollment director, said students of the Excel classes can learn from the comfort of their homes. The classes are being offered via CNCC’s Virtual Classroom, which links teachers and students through personal computers.

“It’s a synchronous way to communicate via the Internet,” Dippel said. “It’s like a glamorized Skype.”

Dippel said most anyone with a computer and a high-speed Internet connection can participate.

“You don’t need anything fancy,” she said of computer hardware.

Dippel said most newer computers are equipped with a webcam and microphone.

“If you don’t have a webcam or a microphone, those are available as USB plug-ins, and you can buy them at Walmart for about $20,” she said. “The camera is not required, but the microphone is strongly recommended.”

Most classes promoted by the Smart Business Alliance will be held in brick-and-mortar locations such as the Moffat County Courthouse.

EDP Director Darcy Trask-Owens said the brochure might be a first step in a growing partnership among members of the Smart Business Alliance.

In the meantime, Trask-Owens said she hopes the alliance will generate conversation within business circles.

“We’re looking forward to feedback from the community,” Trask-Owens said. “Are we meeting the needs of the business community, and getting them the education they need to grow their business?”

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