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In a time where the “pandemic pivot” is more than just a buzzword, Stony Brook University’s College of Business is launching a new workshop series for small business owners across Long Island. Bank of America has stepped in to allow these workshops to be offered at no cost, allowing participants to leave their financial worries at the door. The workshops are a key part of the Suffolk Forward initiative, a joint partnership between Suffolk County and Stony Brook University College of Business.

The Pandemic Shift workshops were developed by the College of Business and the Shift Group, an educational business with roots in Suffolk County. Pandemic Shift is designed to help small businesses facing coronavirus-related disruptions learn to adapt to new challenges. Built with a valuable peer-to-peer learning component, which proved effective in helping small businesses recover after the financial crisis in 2008, Pandemic Shift creates small solution teams for each participant during the workshop’s four 90-minute virtual sessions, all of which take place on Zoom.

Highlights of this program will include a workshop focused on partnerships and co-promotional opportunities to help businesses collaborate and assist Chambers to shift their own practices; and a workshop that will spotlight diversity in the business community. Other topics will include attention-grabbing and expansive promotional ideas and business development.

“We are grateful that Bank of America has stepped in to help Main Street businesses in Suffolk County forge a positive way forward during this challenging time,” said Dean Manuel London of Stony Brook University’s College of Business. “We were impressed with the outcome of the Pandemic Shift pilot in June, which created solutions, introduced participants to our faculty, who advised in their areas of expertise, and connected participants with students in both business and engineering to help with technology and other topics. This is another example of how Stony Brook University collaborates with and provides assistance to the business community.”

Stefan Doering, CEO of Shift Group, who hails from Setauket and is an adjunct faculty member at Stony Brook College of Business said, “It’s very exciting that Bank of America is supporting this program. Thanks to their generosity, we can help 300 businesses adapt to the challenges they’re continuing to face from COVID-19, all at no expense to the business owner. We are also seeing a lot of opportunities to form new partnerships that will help Main Street businesses support each other through the program.”

“Bank of America is committed to supporting the economic recovery of Long Island small businesses,” said Connie Verducci, New York market executive for Bank of America. “Partnerships with local organizations and institutions, including Stony Brook, allow us to provide targeted support to the people who need it most. This is a great opportunity to rebuild and strengthen local businesses and help Long Island emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to adapt to a new normal and eight months later, our small business owners are feeling the financial squeeze this pandemic has caused. As we begin to see a second spike in cases and the potential for new restrictions, these pandemic shift workshops will provide our main street businesses with the expert advice and tools they need to remain successful,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “I thank Stony Brook University and Bank of America for their ongoing support that will help struggling businesses navigate this changing business climate.”

Pandemic Shift currently seeks business owners to participate. As business leaders are diverse on Long Island, the program is looking to have specific workshops geared toward minority businesses expressly aimed at both Hispanic and African American businesses. The first workshops are underway, and the next four-week workshop is scheduled to start December 14. The Suffolk County Women’s Business Enterprise Coalition (SCWBEC) will co-promote a program in January, and six additional workshops will follow. Apply at

In May, Suffolk County and Stony Brook University first launched Suffolk Forward. The initiative consists of a number of different programs all designed to support small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. The goal of the programs is to help Suffolk County businesses adjust and respond to the current business climate and close critical gaps in available resources. In addition to the pandemic shift workshops, available resources include the Suffolk Forward Job Board, the Suffolk Forward Gift Card Platform, the Tech Enhancement Program, and the Suffolk Forward Virtual Expert Network. Through the various programs, businesses will have the opportunity to learn new ways to increase their revenue, be connected to talented workforce, enhance their technology tools, refine their business model, and get individualized expert business advice.

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