SAN MARCOS – In an extraordinarily difficult time for business owners across San Diego County, California State University-San Marcos has launched two programs to help businesses that are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Senior Experience Program is an initiative that was established before the COVID-19 outbreak but has now been expanded and modified to specifically reach businesses and nonprofits that have been financially impacted by the crisis.
The program matches teams of CSUSM students and faculty with projects submitted by regional and national businesses and organizations.
“We are hoping to help as many organizations in San Diego County as we can to reposition and pivot their businesses to the realities of the post-COVID-19 world,” said Miguel A. de Jesús, director of business development. “We have access to students, faculty and experts that can help businesses redefine their business models and survive.”
The second initiative is a partnership with the Chairmen’s Roundtable organization of San Diego (CRT), a collection of about 45 former CEOs and business executives who provide pro-bono consulting to local businesses.
Typically, the CRT only mentors established, stable businesses with $2 million or more in annualized revenue. Due to the economic impact of the coronavirus, however, the CRT has temporarily relaxed its requirements in order to help struggling businesses.
“There’s a clear need. There are a lot of businesses that have never really come across anything like this. So, we thought that this would be a good opportunity for those of us who have been around the block a few times and have been through a few crises to lend some expertise and help them get through it,” said Paul Thiel, CEO and Chairman of CRT.
A longtime partner of CSUSM, the CRT is made up of professionals who have been in the business for 20 to 40 years. All of them have been through major economic events, including the financial crisis of 2007-08.
“Many of us have manufacturing expertise, where we’ve transformed business to change on a dime to make a different product,” Thiel said. “Before, it may have been because there was a new opportunity on the horizon that we wanted to capitalize on, but in this case, there may be an urgent need for masks or hand sanitizer. But since our members have been through similar urgent transformations, we could apply those lessons to the crisis situation today.”
“We understand that a lot of the companies we are going to be dealing with are struggling, so we’re ready for that,” Thiel said. “We’re ready, willing and able to help.”