Women's Business Center of Utah Blog

We just talk about the good stuff.

PTAC Connections

Yesterday Deb and I had the opportunity to attend the PTAC Conference in Provo, UT. I met a lot of our partners and clients, as well as some new contacts that could potential serve as strategic partners in rural areas! There were some organizations like World Trade Center Utah that have rural outreach programs I’d like to look into more and see if we could do similar programming at the WBC. I also met Jodi Anderson, who conducted the first focus group in Cedar City! She was so kind and open to more collaboration. I hope we can work with her more in the months and years to come!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


Great Advice from Oklahoma

I talked over the phone with Jennifer Edwards from the Oklahoma WBC. Ann Marie met her at the WBC Conference in Milwaukee and gave me her contact information. It was so good to hear about the success their program is having in rural areas across Oklahoma! I typed out everything she told me and now have a really great framework to build our outreach program on. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and build something new if it’s already been done and works very well! The best advice she gave to me was to bring together strategic partners in each area to determine the needs of the women business owners in their community. That’s what I’m hoping to start on here in Utah!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


A Little Change in the Approach

The focus groups aren’t going as splendidly as I had hoped they would.  One only had a couple of participants and another had just a few words to sum up the answers to each of the questions. It seems like there is a lot of work going into each focus group and not a lot of great output. Yesterday I had the idea to supplement the focus groups with a survey with the same questions asked in the focus group. This way women’s groups can post it on social media, community leaders can share it via email, and I can directly contact business owners I find online and have them fill it out. It will be a lot less work to get each survey (hopefully!) and it gives me a lot more overall control of the project. Hopefully it goes better with the surveys! I’ve contacted some other women’s business centers around the county who can give me some better insights on how to start a rural outreach program.

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


Rural Connections

When Ann Marie went to the SBA conference last week, she connected with a woman from Oklahoma whose entire job is to travel around the state and do rural outreach. An important tidbit that she told Ann Marie is that in order to reach out and build relationships with individuals in these rural areas, we need to go there in person at least once a year. She talked about how to make connections and foster a collaborative relationship. It was so nice to hear about how to do rural outreach from someone whose job it is to work on it full-time!  We have a long way to go before our outreach in Utah is as high-functioning as it is in Oklahoma, but we’re on our way to building a great program that will change so many lives!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


Meeting Pam Juliano

Ann Marie put me in touch with Pam Juliano, who has been involved heavily in public service around the State of Utah. One of her past positions even included being a coordinator over 11 VISTA sites! I was excited to meet with her because VISTA service is something she wholeheartedly believes in. We met in the strategy room and got straight to work! She told me about her work history and service background and I shared my current project outline with her. She was so knowledgeable about rural areas of Utah and gave me some very useful advice and feedback on my current plan of action. I was so impressed with her understanding of the specific areas we will be implementing our new programs.  We ended our conversation with talking about my background and future plans. She was so supportive and gave me advice for the graduate program I’m applying to this year.  It’s such a blessing to rub shoulders with people who inspire you to do great things!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


Climbing the Summit

Climbing the Summit

Jeff is the Economic Development Director in Summit County. I just got off the phone with him and am just so giddy about all the great information he was able to give me about Summit County. There is so much to learn about each area of the state! It sounds like there is enormous diversity in Summit specifically. He is putting me in contact with some women business owners from regions around the county, as well as the local women’s networking group and a local business accelerator. I am just always so grateful when people are willing to take the time to connect me with other people who can help this initiative succeed!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


Partnering with SBDCs

A big part of our project was connecting with the statewide Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). I knew they could be a huge help in coordinating local focus groups and helping us get important information from rural women business owners. Ann Marie planned a conference call with Mike and Jason from the state SBDC office so we could ask them about presenting this idea to the regional directors across the state. They were so willing to help and I was so grateful for their willingness to get involved! They have a meeting with all the regional directors on October 1st, so they are going to present the project to them then! Woot woot!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


Rolling with the Punches

Part of being a good leader is helping others catch your vision. But sometimes no matter how hard you try, some people just don’t want to see it. I had been receiving some very positive feedback from many county representatives expressing sincere interest and appreciation for our project, so I was feeling pretty good! One afternoon I received an email reply from someone who was very skeptical about the success of our program. They were very frank about their feelings on the real impact we would be able to make through our efforts. As you can imagine I was disheartened by the person’s criticism, but I understand that we can’t win all our battles! Rather than taking it personally, I further explained the goal of the focus groups and thanked them for any help they could provide! Sometimes we just have to learn how to roll with the punches, find new roads, and keep moving forward!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


Reassuring Responses

During the first week I had been trying to contact representatives from each county who might be able to help coordinate focus groups, I hadn’t been receiving any responses. I started to become discouraged and realized that it would be harder than I had imagined to get the focus groups going. Suddenly I received a response from a gentleman in the county I thought would be the hardest to arrange a focus group! It had taken me so long just to find someone I could email from that area who might be able to help us, so it was a big deal even just to hear back! He expressed his gratitude and excitement about our project and said he was looking forward to getting involved in arranging for the focus group. I was such a relief to receive such an enthusiastic response, especially from a place where I least expected it!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


Getting Started

Let’s Get Started!

I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working for the Women’s Business Center! It’s always exciting to be a part of a new project and get to make it all your own. My favorite part of working here is the people I work with. All of them are so educated, driven, and fun! I have so much to learn from all of them! Ann Marie has been so great to give me so much say on what this project will ultimately look like. Having the trust of your supervisor is empowering! As the rural outreach VISTA, my goal is to understand the needs of the rural women business owners throughout the state of Utah and build programs to meet their needs and help them succeed gloriously! Their success is our success! This project has the potential to impact women all over the state and it’s exciting to be a part of it!

Malissa Richardson
outreach@wbcutah.com


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