The Women’s Business Center Launches COVID Recovery Programs



BUFFALO, NY — The Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Canisius College today launched the “ReConnect. ReStart. ReGrow.” COVID Recovery Programs to help women-owned businesses improve their finances in today’s challenging marketplace – whether they are struggling to keep an already existing business going, hoping to launch a new business or managing fast-paced growth as a result of the pandemic.

“The WBC has long been the resource for women business owners who are looking to take their business to the next level,” said WBC Executive Director Sara Vescio. “We pride ourselves on creating and adapting new programming to best suit the specific needs of our local women entrepreneurs, and to provide opportunities for them to grow and succeed. With the needed federal funding to support the recovery of women-owned small businesses, we were able to create this team and provide free, timely and holistic business education.”

The Women’s Business Center, with funding from the CARES Act provided through the Small Business Administration, has created a task force of support specifically for women entrepreneurs which will offer free classes and “Office Hour” appointments for 12 full months to help them recover their businesses. The programs provide business education and guidance to businesses that have experienced issues such as supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, or a decrease in revenue or customers. It also helps women seeking to launch a new business or capitalize on other possible opportunities in response to the pandemic.

“These unique programs are available to all women-owned businesses throughout Western New York,” said Vescio. “Businesses can join just one or as many programs as they like throughout the yearInterested participants can learn more about the programs offered and register for classes or office hours online:

“Studies show that the impact of the pandemic has hit women the hardest,” said Vescio, “especially if you are a woman of color, a woman struggling with anxiety or depression, a woman taking care of elderly relatives or school-aged children, or a woman entrepreneur or business owner. That’s why programming like ‘Reconnect Restart Regrow’ is especially vital right now.”

For those entrepreneurs feeling lost or stuck, they can meet with the Business Development Specialist Christie Nelson, MBA. Christie will go over the current business financials, operations and market trends to help the business owner decide whether it’s time to further invest in their business, find a pivot, stay on pause or close up shop.  She can then recommend further sessions with the subject matter experts on the WBC Task Force.

The WBC Task Force consists of experienced facilitators and mentors who provide results-oriented business education and up-to-the-minute guidance in the following areas:

  • Business Development: Christie Nelson, MBA
  • Finance: Nakeia Cook, MBA
  • Marketing: Jessica Marinelli
  • Sales: Elisabeth Marino
  • Technology: LaTashia Martin
  • Law: Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, Esq.
  • Access to Capital: Royce Woods

The CARES Act funding came in the form of a $420,000 grant, the largest in the history of the WBC at Canisius College, allowing COVID Recovery Programs to run through February 2022 at no cost to women-owned businesses throughout the Western New York region. The community-inclusive programs support women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds with businesses of all sizes and in all industries.

The Women’s Business Center is also partnering with Canisius College to provide clients with training for people-related issues. As part of her MBA Organizational Behavior course, Dr. Robyn Brouer, Professor and Chair of the Management Department, is directing five student groups in a consulting project for WBC clients on topics such as leadership, conflict, inclusion and diversity, motivation and engagement.


The Women’s Business Center, founded in 2004 as a private-public partnership between Canisius College and the Small Business Administration, is the home of women entrepreneurship in Western New York. The WBC is the premier resource empowering woman-owned businesses through education, connections and community to gain economic opportunities through all phases of business.


One of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York. Canisius prepares leaders – intelligent, caring, faithful individuals – able to pursue and promote excellence in their professions, their communities and their

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