BROOKSVILLE — It has been a tough couple of years for Hernando County small businesses. Many have struggled to stay afloat through the economic downturn; some have downsized, and others have closed shop altogether.
In such times, almost no business plan is immune. Even the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce has struggled as members fall by the wayside.
To help those members and the community at large, the chamber is partnering with the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board and soon will create a training academy to provide the tools people need to keep working.
It also has hired a new coordinator to spearhead the effort, with funding from the workforce board.
"We really believe that, if we can have a more educated workforce, we can attract industry and keep the industry we have," said chamber board chairman Randy Woodruff.
Lori Bainum, the new business coordinator, said her initial training will likely focus on effective networking strategies and using social media.
"Part of my responsibility is to market the services through Career Central," said Bainum, a former advertising sales manager with the Hernando Times. "I'll be contacting employers, letting them know what's available. It's a service that's already been paid for."
Bainum stressed that they won't be reinventing the wheel. She will coordinate efforts between agencies and businesses to maximize the strengths already available in the community.
The training initiative will eventually offer courses on developing computer skills, time management, personnel development and leadership development, officials said.
The need for such programs became evident over the last year or two, as local businesses found that skills and business plans forged in a booming economy needed retooling for a recession.
"Unemployment was spiking, membership was dropping," said Woodruff. "We needed to do something for the entire county that would be a benefit to the county and chamber many years down the road."
That focus on improving the county's human assets "in the trenches" will bring huge returns when the economy turns around, Bainum said.