Since March 2020, Sierra Commons has made dramatic shifts to respond to the rapidly changing needs of small businesses and remote workers.
The Sierra Commons E-Commerce Business Ignitor Course, offered free to the public, helped 70 businesses build viable online strategies. The class served industry sectors including brick-and-mortar retailers, professional service providers, and artisans. Foothill Mercantile, a long-time Grass Valley retailer went from no online presence to quickly launching a site with over 1,600 available products.
"The classes really helped me. I was given a lot of insight on things that I wouldn't have known to do. There was also a lot of invaluable support from other merchants who encouraged me and shared what was working for them." Ellen Davis, Operations Manager – Foothill Mercantile
Other entrepreneurs gained the skills and confidence needed to quickly adapt to sudden shifts in customer needs.
"Man, I've been super busy with photoshoots. I had four this weekend! I'm so grateful for Sierra Commons for helping make my freelancer dream a reality." Allison Kalt, Owner – Allison Kalt Photography
In collaboration with other local organizations, including Rebound Nevada County and the Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District, Sierra Commons ramped up a program delivery to address the growing business crisis.
"Our ongoing partnership with Sierra Commons has allowed us to strengthen our programming through the COVID-19 pandemic. From the E-Commerce Business Ignitor to one-on-one business advising, the Sierra SBDC values collaboration as a critical component in delivering the best services possible to small businesses in Nevada County." – Jessica Perry Carr, Associate Director – Sierra Small Business Development Center
Sierra Commons also serves as a small business emergency response center by providing redundant Internet connections, generator power, on-demand broadband access, and COVID-compliant workspaces. During the recent fire and PSPS, the organization delivered critical infrastructure to both local businesses and media. YubaNet.com's livestream reached an audience of 5,000 and the website served two million pageviews, providing critical emergency updates to our community when needed most. A Sierra Commons member, YubaNet.com has also broadcast 20 townhall meetings from the coworking space since the beginning of the pandemic.
Due to government-mandated office closures, Sierra Commons' revenue stream has been severely impacted. "At the same time we lost our main revenue stream, we kicked our operations into overdrive," said Robert Trent, Executive Director at Sierra Commons. "In addition to making capital infrastructure investments, we delivered a ton of no-cost classes to meet the needs of our business community. All of this took a toll on our balance sheet," added Trent.
Now that Nevada County has moved into the "Moderate" COVID tier, the coworking office is once again open for business. Coupled with financial support from the Nevada County Relief Fund, the non-profit will be better able to continue serving the small business community and building a more resilient local economy.
About Sierra Commons
Founded in 2009, Sierra Commons is the central hub for entrepreneurs and remote workers in Western Nevada County. Our coworking facility offers a variety of membership options including monthly memberships, Zoom Room rentals, outdoor meeting spaces, and more. For more information, or to set up a tour, please visit www.sierracommons.org
About the Nevada County Relief Fund
The Nevada County Relief Fund was created through a partnership between the County of Nevada, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation (the Fund's fiscal sponsor), Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, the Sierra Business Council, Center for Nonprofit Leadership, and the Economic Resource Council. In conjunction with Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation's Emergency Response Fund, the purpose of this effort is to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis by directing vital resources to our most vulnerable neighbors, and support our small, rural businesses.
The Fund was established in April 2020 with a $100,000 "challenge grant" from the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. Since then, it has gained traction as a reliable way to give back to our unique small businesses and nonprofits that have been stretched to meet extreme community needs.
Please consider making a tax-deductible gift today that goes directly to assist Nevada County's invaluable nonprofits and small businesses. For more information and to make a gift, please visit, www.nevcorelief.org