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Photo of masked retail worker helping a customer.
Main street businesses remain the economic and cultural heart of many rural communities. A key component of effective rural development is the generation of local sales tax revenue, which helps fund community services and infrastructure. (Photo by Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services)

Online business improvement training available for some Oklahoma counties

Monday, August 16, 2021

Media Contact: Donald Stotts | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-4079 | donald.stotts@okstate.edu

Training opportunities that can help strengthen rural economies in the retail, tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors are now available for some regions of Oklahoma through Oklahoma State University Extension and cooperating partner organizations.

Training modules are self-paced and offered online through the SkillUp/Metrix Learning Self-Directed program. Employees and managers of local businesses in the following regions are eligible: The Sandstone Hills region of Creek, Osage and Pawnee counties and the Crossing Borders region of Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes and Sequoyah counties.

“Think of the program as one-stop shopping: customer service skills, decision making, navigating customer confrontation and conflict, effective communication, marketing essentials, brand management, QuickBooks Pro, effective management and much more,” said Sara Siems, OSU Extension assistant specialist with the Department of Agricultural Economics.

Participants who complete and pass the entire course are eligible to receive a $250 stipend.

In addition to Metrix Learning, cooperating partners include Career Tech, Green Country Workforce, local chambers of commerce and Main Street organizations, among others.

The online training opportunities are part of the national Create Bridges pilot program. The first phase of the initiative launched in 2018 and includes multi-county regions in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky, which are led by community development specialists with OSU Extension, the University of Arkansas and the University of Kentucky. The second phase launched in 2020 and includes multi-county regions in Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina. Both phases are supported by the Southern Rural Development Center with funding provided by Walmart.

A regional steering committee developed strategies to assist local businesses in the selected regions in response to needs assessments conducted in 2019 and 2020.

 “The needs of local businesses have only intensified during the past year as everybody has been dealing with the pandemic,” Siems said. “Sign up as soon as possible if you’re interested in the training opportunities. Space is limited.”

 For additional information, contact Siems by email at sara.siems@okstate.edu or by phone at 405-744-9826.

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