Partnership produces free Excel training sessions for small businesses

Interested businesses can contact Chamber to register

Adam Bramburger

Beaver Staff

A series of seminars planned for Napanee in the coming weeks will help small businesses get free training on a valued, yet sometimes overlooked skill set.

Through a partnership agreement between the Small Business Centre, the Napanee and District Chamber of Commerce, and the Napanee BIA, there will be three Microsoft Excel seminars delivered by instructor teacher Lorrie Watts. Each course will be targeted for people with different levels of expertise with the spreadsheet software.

Chamber executive director Megan Smith hopes businesses will take advantage.

“For our members, it’s a great opportunity for them to get this at no cost. It’s an additional benefit to the business community and (training) is something that varies at all levels,” she said. “I really love the fact that we’re offering it to people who are beginning with Excel, who know Excel but maybe need a little more help, and then those who advanced. There’s definitely interest and this hasn’t necessarily gone out as of yet.”

Small Business Centre consultant Sandy Abbott said Watts, who has been teaching for about 20 years, has been flexible in adapting to make the seminars run. Normally, she meets one company in its office and does a focused session with between two-to-six staff people. In these sessions, she’ll work with as many as 14 people.

In Abbott’s other territory, Prince Edward County, the sessions went over so well that there have been five full workshops offered and there’s still a waiting list to take part. She said there are plenty of applications for the training.

“Quite a few people have been asking for a simple way to keep track of their finances as they’re not doing their own books. It can also be used for inventory of a product, or there are people struggling with creating databases for different things,” she said. “In the last courses, those were all covered. Once we got into the advanced week, it was frankly over my head. Laurie was showing us how to sort using a huge number of variables. There were a lot of people who said “I use Excel every day and I didn’t know we could do these things.’”

At each session, there will also be a coffee break and a chance for networking. Abbott encourages prospective participants to bring their business cards and share information about what they do.

Abbott said the partnership works as she has a budget she can use for training in Lennox and Addington County, but she doesn’t necessarily have a space or the time to handle logistics like registration. The Chamber and the BIA have stepped forward to do that and they’ve worked with the County to secure space.

“It’s a huge amount of work. If there wasn’t a central person to take that on, I probably wouldn’t be able to come here,” she said, adding the Prince Edward/Lennox and Addington Community Futures Development Corporation also contributes funds through its Eastern Ontario Development Program.

“Normally, for something like this, we might ask attendees for a little, but the philosophy of the Small Business Centre is if we possibly can find other ways to get it paid for, we do. Small businesses have enough to worry about without necessarily having to fork over money.”

Smith added this time of year is generally a good time of year for business people to get away to work on training.
The sessions run Feb. 28 at the Napanee Business Centre and March 7 and March 21 at the L&A County Museum and Archives.

Participants must have a laptop computer with Excel 2010 or newer and Mac users are cautioned some functions will appear differently on their screens. To reserve a space, a $40 refundable deposit is required. Space can be reserved through the Chamber at 613-354-6601.

error: Content is protected !!