NORFOLK — Jim Carroll is ready to get back on the road.
Carroll, executive director of the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, said it’s time to re-institute the Circuit Ride Program — and its in-person visits — for the second half of the year.
Started in 2017, the free program allows Carroll to bring counseling and information resources to clients instead of having them travel to the center’s headquarters in downtown Norfolk.
“The SBDC is the primary, principle or lead entity when it comes to putting out information about small business,” Carroll said.
The beauty of the program, he said, is that participating small business owners can talk about whatever is on their mind. It is open to both co-working space members and the general public.
“People can come in and talk about what’s going right with their business or what’s going wrong with their business,” Carroll said. “It’s tailored to the individual needs of the businesses.”
To request an appointment, visit hrsbdc.org.
Halted due to the pandemic, the SBDC program is designed to ensure the survival of the region’s small businesses and prepare them for a post-pandemic future.
“We reverted to remote, but even doing remote Zoom meetings just didn’t have the same feel as being in the room one-on-one,” Carroll said.
A fully vaccinated Carroll said he’s anxious to hit the road to Franklin, Smithfield, Virginia Beach, York County, Gloucester, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Williamsburg.
“Basically, when COVID hit this whole program died a death, and … in June I’m going to reactivate the program and start going out and seeing clients on station,” he said. “It should be noted that the pandemic still gets a vote on this plan and it might be subject to change.”
The HRSBDC has partnerships with Gather, Bloom, IncuHub, Franklin Business Center, Isle of Wight Chamber (Hamtown Hub) and 1701 Virginia Beach Coworking.
The main library in Gloucester, Yorktown’s economic development office and a location to be determined in Suffolk are also on the schedule of weekly trips.
Carroll is in a different city every Thursday and Friday for prescheduled half-hour and hour-long appointments.
“2021 is shaping up to be a year of transition; we’re not going to be completely recovered,” Carroll said. “This is a time when people can sit back and objectively look at their business and figure out what direction they want to take their business as we come out of the pandemic.”
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, firstname.lastname@example.org