Queens councilman promotes city program to help small businesses

Councilman Robert Holden supports a new city program that helps small business owners and their employees bridge the digital divide. (Photo courtesy of Holden’s office)

As so many small businesses across the borough struggle to stay open during the economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Councilman Robert Holden is touting the launch of “Training for Your Employees,” a new resource that provides business owners and their employees with training in digital literacy, marketing tools, online security and coronavirus safety.

The online, no-cost training, provided by the city’s Department of Small Business Services, will prepare participants to use digital platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workplace.

“The sudden emergence of the coronavirus pandemic has created a need for all industries, and especially cities, to pivot towards digital transformation,” said Holden, the chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Technology. “Our small businesses have struggled in this rapidly changing world, and need all the help they can get. I applaud the city for offering the resource to business owners and their employees and encourage all to use it.”

Live instruction will be provided by Lehman College. Select training programs will also be available in Spanish and Chinese.

“The pandemic accelerated the need for small businesses to make better use of technology for their everyday activities and to adopt new safety protocols. The digital divide remains an obstacle for many, particularly those in underserved communities,” NYC Small Business Services Commissioner Jonnel Doris said. “The Training for Your Employees program is designed to address the divide by helping small business owners and their employees navigate digital tools and operate safely to optimize their operation and reach new levels of success.”

Training courses include communication, document creation, scheduling and managing Zoom meetings, Microsoft Office Basics and Cloud Storage. Businesses can learn more about the program’s eligibility criteria and access the application at NYC.Gov/TrainingEmployees.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has produced an urgent need to help struggling workers and small businesses adapt through this difficult time and beyond,” Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity Executive Director Matthew Klein said. “We are pleased to partner with Small Business Services and build on our track record of successful workplace development programs to provide free training to employees to get vital digital skills that will help them with their careers, and also help their businesses meet pressing needs.”