TAMPA, Fla. — The Ella Bing Haberdashery in Hyde Park Village needed help when closures due to the coronavirus pandemic did a number on business.
Owner Brent Kraus knew just who to call: the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center. The cost-free resource was created by the Hillsborough County Economic Development Department.
In the month of April alone, thousands of Tampa Bay area business took part in events hosted by the ECC.
The organization has had its own challenges. It's moved the typically in-person social gatherings to virtual ones.
“They’ve been so helpful connecting us to other people in the community,” says Kraus. “And just helping us get our message out there.”
High-end fashion is sold at Ella Bing. A smart stylish line of coronavirus masks sold out in a matter of minutes. When he needed talented people to sew them, the ECC helped.
“We’re receiving calls from business owners who are desperate,” says ECC’s Lynn Kroesen. “They need assistance. They need resources. And they’re working it out with our help and guidance.”
The ECC is helping small businesses and entrepreneurs pivot to adapt to the rapidly changing economic landscape.
Wanda Barton’s Xtremely Clean Janitorial Service, a commercial cleaning company, immediately jumped on conquering coronavirus fears.
But new equipment meant money. The ECC helped navigate the murky waters of small business loans.
“It gives me chills just to think about how much they helped,” says Barton.
The University of South Florida also has a Small Business Development Center, which aids business owners facing challenges.
Facebook and Instagram also started online shops to help small businesses sell during the coronavirus pandemic.