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Nevada County business consortium offers crash course in e-commerce

Tom Durkin
Staff Writer

Learn more

Who: Sierra Commons and Rebound Nevada County

What: E-commerce Business Ignitor Course

Where: online via Zoom

When: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday to May 22

Admission: Free (pre-registration required)

Student registration: http://www.sierracommons.org/ignitor-signup

Volunteer consultant signup: http://www.sierracommons.org/rebound-team-signup

More information: http://www.sierracommons.org, 530-265-8443

In an all-hands-on-deck effort to rescue the foundering local economy, an ad hoc consortium of businesses, elected officials and business organizations has self-organized as Rebound Nevada County.

In a show of moral support, Rebound sponsored “Rainbows of Hope” and “Nevada County Strong” glass paintings in the windows of businesses in downtown Nevada City.

Additionally, Rebound has partnered with Sierra Commons to offer “E-commerce Business Ignitor,” a crash course in disaster recovery for small businesses caught on the wrong side of the digital divide.

“The goal is to get 50 local businesses up and selling online by June 1,” stated Robert X Trent, executive director of Sierra Commons, a co-working space and business education nonprofit based in Nevada City.

The course is free to qualifying businesses.

To qualify, an enterprise must demonstrate a need for technical and marketing support, a commitment to do the hard work of building an online store, and the ability to attend class via Zoom video conferencing.

In addition to 10 hours of class time, Ignitor students will receive free support from a variety of consultants.

“The Sierra Small Business Development Center looks forward to supporting E-commerce Business Ignitor next week, and to provide one-on-one technical assistance at no cost to small businesses,” affirmed Jessica Perry Carr, an associate director of the Sierra Small Business Development Center.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the Business Ignitor is the direct, one-on-one technical and marketing support from volunteer consultants. These are working professionals, including web developers, photographers, copywriters and graphic artists.

“The SBDC advisors will work with you to succeed online,” Trent said. “The volunteer consultants will do some of the boots-on-the-ground work to get the sites up and running.”

Class starts Monday and runs from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. every day through May 22.

Because time is of the essence, Trent said he will be accepting applications from interested businesses through this weekend.

“We have 25 students and room for another 25,” he said Wednesday. An online application is at http://www.sierracommons.org/ignitor-signup.

Rebound Nevada County is a collaborative group that includes the Sierra Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Nevada City and Grass Valley chambers of commerce, members of Nevada City and Grass Valley city councils, Sierra Commons, Grass Valley Downtown Association, Nevada City Film Festival, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Miners Foundry Cultural Center, Nevada County Arts Council, Nevada County Economic Resource Council and the Sierra Business Council, according to a Sierra Commons press release.

In addition to the E-commerce Business Ignitor Course and graphic art in business windows, Rebound Nevada County is creating Resilience Kits for Businesses, said Rebound member Erika Seward, who is co-executive director of the Bear Yuba Land Trust.

Seward organized the Nevada County Strong/Rainbows of Hope window glass painting project in Nevada City. She said volunteers plan to do windows in Grass Valley next.


Serial entrepreneur Barry Friedman, small business consultant Veronika Monel, and Erin Thiem of Nevada City’s Outside Inn will join Trent in teaching the E-commerce Business Ignitor Course.

Additionally, Trent is recruiting volunteer consultants who will work directly with students. These working professionals will assist students in the actual creation of their online stores.

The initial consultations will be free. Businesses that want more in-depth assistance will be offered discounted rates during the ramp up to June 1, Trent said.

“I’m super psyched to be a part of this, and am really rooting for the businesses that show up to start crushing it online,” said Mike Mooers, owner of Wicked Good Copy.

I’ll cover copywriting for sites,” he said. “We’ll go over ways to keep things succinct and engaging.”

Professional photographer Douglas Hooper will work with students to create high impact visuals. ”Many businesses can get along quite nicely with a simple table-top set-up for product photography,” he reported.

“I want to do what I can personally to help our local businesses make it through this very tough time,” said Erika Kosina, a Sierra Commons board member. “I am offering content marketing, project management and writing services to support new e-commerce sites.”

Trent is looking to recruit more volunteer consultants. The Economic Resource Council is offering modest stipends to professionals willing to work directly with the students, “but it’s mostly a volunteer gig,” he stressed.

Trent is looking for experts in their fields who are willing to step up to help local businesses reach their online goals. Volunteers are encouraged to join the team by signing up at http://www.sierracommons.org/rebound-team-signup.

Tom Durkin is a staff writer with The Union.

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