Spring Newsletter 2020

MBIA Annunal Board Elections

This year we have two people nominated for positions on the MBIA Board of Directors. Please meet the two candidates below.

Bonnie Dawdy works at GVSU's applied Medical Device Institute (aMDI) as Operations Manager/Program Manager for Advancing Women Engineers and Entrepreneurs (AWE2). She has over 14 years experience in the incubation, co-working, accelerator space which involved the operations, consulting and association management. She has worked at the West Michigan Science & Technology Initiative Venture Center, the GR Current  Incubator, Co-Working and Accelerator program. Bonny has also spent time as a Program Manager at BBCetc. Bonny is very familiar with MBIA, having served as a previous board member as well as the MBIA Operations Manager.  Additionally, she is a member of the Women of MichBio Committee (MichBio Diversity Network), Vice Chair Person for the Health Sciences Early College Academy Committee (Kent Career Technical Center), a member of the planning committee for the Great Lakes International Innovation Summit (GLIn2), and a member of the International Innovation Business Association (InBIA) with a certificate in incubator management. 

When asked why she would like to serve on the MBIA Board of Directors, she said:

"I thoroughly enjoy the mission of the MBIA and helping ESOs learn and create the environment and services in order to help entrepreneurs and companies grow their product or business. I also would like to be a part of any new initiative that MBIA will be involved with to expand the awareness of the association and grow membership. Expanding the MBIA membership would allow for more opportunities for members to share their experiences of what works and what doesn’t work in order to grow and become self sustainable. I also enjoy the Forum aspect of the events and programs that MBIA offers to its members as well as non-members so that we can continue to enhance the Michigan Entrepreneurial Ecosystem."

The second candidate is Nicholas Joblonski. Nick is a Data Analyst for Entrepreneurial Services at ANn Arbor SPARK. He has 13 months experience running an incubator; occupying space, attracting tenants, cleanup and events, improvements, license agreements, and accounting. He also spent more than 2 years at Michigan State University in The Center for Community and Economic Development, as well as with Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). He was responsible for over-arcing deliverables of data analysis with respect to startup technology biased companies, as well as attraction and retention of companies to the local region. He has experience with local events in the area, as well as outside locations with respect to company informational meetings, showcasing client companies, hosting area company and city ran events, and the like.

Nick has earned his Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) designation and was recognized as a Beta Gamma Sigma inductee for outstanding academic achievement and commitment to business excellence. Nick holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of South Florida.

When asked why he would like to serve on the MBIA Board of Directors, he answered:

"To be part of advocating growth in economic development locally, regionally, and statewide through entrepreneurship, accelerators, incubators, SmartZone’s and the like. Being on the MBIA board of directors will not only allow me to give insight as it pertains to the Ann Arbor region but grow me into new avenues of economic development I wish to explore and be part of to stimulate growth."

Voting for the MBIA Board of Directors will take place in May with elected Board Members taking office on July 1. Please make your voice heard and vote in May.

MBIA Annual Member Meeting & Workshops

Due to the Coronavirus situation and the many closures across the state, the MBIA Annual Member Meeting & Workshops is on hold. When a future date can be determined, it will be announced. In the meantime, the annual board election will take place in May as scheduled. All voting will be done electronically via the MBIA website. All members will receive voting instructions via direct email in April. 

New State Incubator Association Collaboration

There is an effort underway to unite the various state incubator associations across the United States, and MBIA is part of that effort. The purpose of the collaboration is to build relationships exchange ideas about creating/delivering additional value to our respective members, sponsors, and stakeholders – whether via collaboration, borrowing each other’s good ideas, sharing info about new approaches/opportunities, or other means. The focus is to create value that will increase association impact and attract new members, new leadership energy, and higher dues and sponsorship revenues for the state associations.
Any MBIA member who wishes to participate in the monthly planning calls is welcome to call in (712.770.3867, access code 765609#). The meeting dates are all on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 2:00 PM EST. The current scheduled dates are:

Apr 21
May 19
June 16
July 21
Aug 18
Additionally, the state association representatives will be meeting at a designated time and space at the InBIA International Conference in Boston. If any MBIA members will be in Boston and want to attend this meeting of the state association, you are invited to do so. More details will be provided as the date approaches.

InBIA Board Nominees Include a MI Candidate

Amanda Chocko, who heads up entrepreneurial efforts for Lakeshore Advantage and the Holland SmartZone, is one of nine finalists for the InBIA (International Business Innovation Association) open board of directors positions. Voting by InBIA members is open now through Friday, May 15. It would be great to have a member of our Michigan SmartZone network on this board, contributing and learning about other incubators and best practices internationally. Previous Michigan board members at InBIA have included current InBIA Board Chair Leslie Smith (formerly with TechTown in Detroit), current InBIA board member Paul Riser (Director of TechTown in Detroit), and current MBIA President Sandra Cochrane (WMed Innovation Center/Kalamazoo SmartZone). 

Good luck, Amanda!

How Small Businesses Can Prepare for the Coronavirus

Bridget Weston

As of March 6, 2020, there have been 164 confirmed cases in 19 states and a total of 11 deaths from COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. By the time you read this, that number will undoubtedly be much, much higher. The CDC urges businesses to prepare for worst-case scenarios regarding coronavirus. Here’s what to do.

Stay on top of the news
With rumors spreading faster than the virus itself, look to reputable sources for facts.
  • The CDC recently launched Coronovirus.gov with extensive information for all U.S. residents, not just including business owners.
  • The CDC has issued coronavirus guidelines for businesses and is updating them as new developments occur.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has a coronavirus fact sheet for businesses as well as coronavirus FAQs and resources.
Identify key functions and risks
If you already have a disaster plan, use it to identify your most important business functions. Then think about how a pandemic might affect them.
  • How will you stay open if half the staff is out sick or caring for sick family members?
  • Who are your employees with critical skills who can’t be easily replaced on short notice? Can you train someone quickly, perhaps even outsource their work?
  • What might happen if products you import from China were restricted?
Keep your workplace safe
At work, remind employees to practice basic hygiene, as they would during cold and flu season.
  • Provide plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer throughout the office.
  • Keep bathroom soap and towel dispensers full and encourage regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Clean surfaces regularly and provide disposable disinfectant wipes so employees can wipe down shared surfaces, such as keyboards, cash registers or desks, before using them.
  • Provide disposable gloves for employees who use shared tools or touch the same surfaces, such as warehouse workers or shipping clerks.
  • Because close contact allows viruses to spread, consider rearranging workspaces to keep workers at least 6 feet apart.

Watch for symptoms
Know the symptoms of coronavirus—fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • If workers have even mild cold or flu symptoms, send them home.
  • Keeping employees from coming in sick may require providing sick pay and removing limits on sick days.
  • If an employee gets sick at work, sanitize their work area after they go home.

Work remotely
If possible, have employees work remotely.
If using their own computers, ensure employees use your company’s virtual private network (VPN) to access data, encrypt emails, install antivirus software and activate firewalls.
Choose communication tools for instant messaging, project management and virtual meetings; Zoom, GoToMeeting and Zoho Meeting are three video conferencing apps to consider.

Restrict travel
Eliminate non-essential employee travel, especially to events with international audiences or areas with coronavirus outbreaks. Employees who have recently traveled to an affected area should self-quarantine at home for 14 days after their return.

Plan for absenteeism
In addition to employees who are out sick, many healthy employees will be stuck at home caring for sick family members, caring for children if schools close down, or unable to get to work if mass transit shuts down.
Cross-train employees, supervisors and managers to cover others’ jobs, including working in other departments and geographic locations if necessary.
Develop a relationship with a staffing service so you can quickly bring on temporary workers.
Identify positions that could be outsourced.

Check your coverage
Business interruption coverage covers income lost when you shutter your business due to disaster. However, it typically doesn’t pay out unless there is physical damage to the business. Talk to your insurance agent to see what, if any, coverage you would have if coronavirus forces temporary closure.

Communicate continually
Communication is key to preventing panic.
  • Make sure employees clearly understand the reasons for any policies you implement.
  • Direct them to reputable sources of information to stay abreast of the situation.
  • Use the Crisis Communications Planning Checklist to develop a communications plan.

For food service businesses:
The National Restaurant Association advises contacting your local health department for guidance and updates about coronavirus in your area.
  • The NRA website has information and to resources to help restaurants prepare for a coronavirus outbreak, including a coronavirus fact sheet in both English and Spanish.
  • Dine-in business may drop off significantly, but this can be an opportunity to ramp up delivery or takeout sales.
  • Bringing takeout customers’ orders to their cars can minimize potentially risky contact.

For retailers:
Prepare for supply chain issues and product shortages by seeking alternative suppliers.
  • Keep in touch with suppliers to get alerted to problems immediately.
  • Use this opportunity to expand your e-commerce sales; be prepared for online orders to increase.
  • If you don’t sell online, offer customers the option to place orders by phone for delivery or curbside pickup.

About the Author

Bridget Weston

Bridget Weston is the Acting CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

MBIA Template 1 - Spring Newsletter 2020