The Research Park and EnterpriseWorks staff responded quickly to the World Health Organization’s announcement declaring COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2019. On March 12, the Research Park team held a virtual meeting with the Research Park site directors to discuss actions to address the situation. A few days later, the team hosted a meeting for small businesses in the Research Park and Champaign-Urbana community. Unknown to the team at the time, these were the firsts of many virtual meetings for the community. From March 12 through May 22, the Research Park team has hosted and played a key role in 59 hours of programming geared toward supporting not only EnterpriseWorks and Research Park companies, but also local businesses, Illinois incubators, and organizations across the state.
In those 59 hours of programming, the Research Park has engaged with 243 unique organizations, not including University of Illinois departments. 497 unique individuals have participated in this programming. Participation includes people from the University of Illinois, EnterpriseWorks companies, Research Park companies, Illinois University incubators from around the state, and business from the Champaign-Urbana community and the State of Illinois.
The Research Park team has been intentional about the types of programming offered amid the pandemic. The types of virtual events offered range from happy hours to facilitate connections in the Research Park and EnterpriseWorks community to workshops geared toward helping small businesses find the resources needed to navigate the economic effects of the pandemic. In addition to hosting events, Research Park leadership also presented their expertise during local, regional, and national events. These events include meetings with Champaign County leaders, discussions with the Illinois University Incubator Network (IUIN) incubators, and webinars for the Association of University Research Parks (AURP). A few of the events offered by Research Park from March to May include:
- Panel: COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program for Small Businesses
- Reopening the World’s Workplaces for Today, Tomorrow and the Future
- COVID-19 Impact on Immigration: Panel Discussion
- Job Search Strategies During COVID-19: RIR Workshop with Sophie Roney
- EIR Workshop: How to Optimize Resources and Maximize Compliance for PPP Loans
- EnterpriseWorks Coffee & Community