Adding to 'all hands on deck' to help local businesses


Gina Couillard, Director of the Coconino Small Business Development Center at CCC, stands inside her office at the Fourth Street campus, ready to help small businesses.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The experience was really like trying to grab a small sip from a firehose at full blast.


When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down business across the state, organizations like the Coconino Small Business Development Center at Coconino Community College stepped into breach to lend a needed hand.


“When the COVID-19 disaster started, it was just me and Amanda part time,” said Gina Couillard, Director of the Coconino SBDC, adding that Amanda Hyde moved to a full-time business analyst and operations specialist in short order to assist with the demand from local businesses.


Now, with the help of a $108,000 CARES Act grant, the Coconino SBDC will be growing the staff to include another full-time business analyst to help businesses weather the pandemic.


Couillard worked right through spring break to gear up for the statewide closure of businesses. She spent countless hours helping business owners understand the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program. She held a series web-based sessions walking business owners through the application process.


This year, the SBDC has had more than 25 trainings and has helped 603 businesses from all over the state and beyond – a number that is more than double the 2019 numbers for the SBDC. Additionally, the SBDC has provided counseling to more than 150 businesses throughout Coconino County.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially difficult on small businesses,” said Kay Leum, Executive Director of Extended Learning at CCC. “With the CARES Act grant funding for Small Business Development Centers across the country, Gina and her team will be able to provide services to Coconino County businesses with more resources, including staff.”


Leum added, “The tireless work that the Coconino SBDC has provided during the last six months displayed an excellence that was already in place but was highlighted when so many businesses needed the services the SBDC could provide.”


As a former business owner, Couillard recognizes the important role that small businesses make to the economy of Coconino County, and she recognizes the challenges and obstacles they face in the marketplace.


She said, “Our team is committed to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 disaster and position themselves to thrive in the recovery that will follow.”


It is currently a time of unprecedented need in the county, with businesses focused on access to capital and experts to help them navigate the process more important than ever before. The effects of the pandemic are becoming more dire, and connecting businesses to resources is imperative, Couillard said.


The Coconino SBDC at CCC is currently interviewing applicants for the new business analyst position. Meanwhile, Couillard said that the Coconino SBDC is currently searching out funding options to sustain operations into the future.


The Coconino County SBDC at CCC has the mission to provide free, confidential counseling, training, online courses and resources for businesses throughout the northern Arizona region. The SBDC is part of a national network of centers that work with businesses in every industry. The SBDC’s mission aligns with the college’s work in certificate and short-term training programs meant to get county residents into well-paid jobs quickly with the skills they need.

For more information, visit to learn more about the Coconino County Small Business Development Center at CCC. For more information about the U.S. Small Business Administration, visit



Friday, 28th August 2020 12:00 AM

All Dates

  • Friday, 28th August 2020 12:00 AM