WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita State University says the City of Wichita is giving the school $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help small businesses that are struggling. The money will ultimately address technology problems.

WSU says a lot of small businesses have face-to-face interaction with customers. Therefore, many of those businesses were the ones that had to shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If these businesses had access to tech talent and resources to shift to a digital platform, they not only could have survived but possibly thrived and competed against large corporations that had the financial means to pivot to digital quickly,” said Dr. Jeremy Patterson, executive director of WSU’s Office of Innovation and New Ventures.

The $1 million will go toward the Small Business Digital Transformation (SBDT) Program. The program has developed a four-week training for business owners to streamline workflow, focusing on converting to online sales and tracking digital sales and growth.

“We are rethinking nearly every element of instruction to deliver a program that builds business resiliency while connecting and embedding students from across campus into this real-world application with the goal of ultimately filling local job demands,” Patterson said.

Wichita State students hired as digital navigators will help businesses design a digital-integration plan and will help implement specific technology to boost efficiency.

“Long-term, the hope is that it will allow the businesses to be more successful and to grow,” said Troy Tabor, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “This is the way for the university to bring these small businesses up to speed – it will raise all ships.”

For more information on the Wichita State University Office of Innovation and New Ventures and the Small Business Digital Transformation Program contact Jeremy Patterson at 316-978-3786 or email jeremy.patterson@wichita.edu.