Building Local Partnerships

The Hoboken Business Alliance and Stevens Institute of Technology partner and use Ginkgo to assist small businesses.

By Starling Childs

For most of us, a vibrant and diverse small business community is the heart and sole of our downtowns and local business districts. The COVID-19 pandemic cast new uncertainty and compounded some already challenging conditions for many of our retail streets. Hoboken, NJ is no exception. However, in Hoboken's case the recently established Hoboken Business Alliance (HBA) worked with Ginkgo to help the small business community navigate challenging times and build in better measures for long term resilience by fostering stronger partnerships with the city and local institutions.

In June of 2020 the HBA began working with the School of Business at Stevens Institute of Technology — the largest university in the city — to pair undergraduate and graduate students with local businesses. The goal was twofold — give the small businesses resources and technology to navigate the sudden challenges brought on by the pandemic, and enable students to engage with real-world business challenges right in their local brick-and-mortar retail community.

To help facilitate this partnership, the HBA worked with Ginkgo and the City's Planning Department, to organize a comprehensive directory of local businesses and contacts for these establishments. Ginkgo helped map and categorize all businesses, as well as create a custom survey for each business in the new directory.

The survey enabled both the HBA to gauge unique needs among the community of business owners and Stevens to identify students best suited to meeting these needs.

In the process, the survey also enabled the HBA to confirm the accuracy of their records on the businesses in their directory. Around 400 businesses were included in the initial outreach. And more than 20 of these businesses have now been successfully paired with Stevens students. As a result of the positive feedback and impact so far, Stevens hopes to expand on this program and partnership with the HBA in the future.

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