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As we close 2021, many business owners are making plans and setting goals for the New Year. And many realize that in today's digital economy, e-commerce and an enhanced digital presence is crucial for their business’ sustainability and success. 

My hope is that these small businesses know they are not alone, and they can turn to the many organizations in our community that provide business support and programs tailored to the ever-evolving needs of business owners, including technology guidance and digital skills. 

The digital divide disproportionally affects low- to moderate-income neighborhoods and communities of color. As a small business advocate, LiftFund recognizes that it also hinders small business’ ability to succeed. We recently hosted a session on this topic with local experts in the field: Jordana Barton, VP of community investments at Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Marina Alderete Gavito, executive director of SA Digital Connects. They were joined by local business owner Kela Nabors, founder of Organically Bath & Beauty, and our own chief growth officer, Celina Peña, as the moderator. Tune in to LiftFund’s YouTube Channel for the insightful conversation and learn more about the local initiatives taking place to address this infrastructure issue. 

Digital access and connectivity are more important than ever. The good news is that our community has champions and supporters invested in developing initiatives to close the digital divide for San Antonio and Bexar County residents. 

I encourage small business owners to connect with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, LiftFund Women's Business Center, and LiftFund, as well as other business organizations, trade groups and chambers of commerce to learn more about their business support offerings – some of which are free. 

There are also programs available to help small business owners thrive online. LiftFund has partnered with Verizon to offer the The Verizon Small Business Digital Ready program in our community. This program offers a platform with access to personalized content, coaching, networking, and online tools to teach digitally savvy strategies that business owners can implement with little to no cost. Learn more and sign up here

Another great national program is Comcast RISE, which offers a suite of services to help small businesses overcome the ongoing impact of the pandemic. The program offers a variety of support services like marketing/advertising consulting, technology makeovers and grant funding. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2022.

Janie Barrera is the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of LiftFund, a nonprofit small business champion.

In today's economy, e-commerce and a digital presence are crucial for business sustainability and success. 

Many organizations in our community provide business support and programs, including technology guidance and digital skills. 

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