CoBiz Richmond ‘Coming Out Stronger’ amid COVID-19 crisis

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CoBiz Richmond 'Coming Out Stronger' amid COVID-19 crisis
CoBiz CEO Wesley Alexander (left) and CoBiz Community Manager Christina Kenney on opening day for the new co-working space and incubator at 1503 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond on Nov. 1, 2019.

When CoBiz Richmond launched on Nov. 1 last year, no one could have predicted a pandemic was on its way. The launch turned out to be good timing, as the coworking space and business incubator has become a source of support in uncertain times for local businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits in the community.

Located in a 9,000 square foot, technologically-equipped space at 1503 Macdonald Ave. (next to the BART Station), CoBiz Richmond remains open to essential businesses and to providers of essential services, CEO Wesley Alexander said.

For other local businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits, CoBiz has been supplying a varied slate of multi-media services and resources aiming to guide them through this difficult time.

For example, CoBiz is offering a weekly Community Forum Series featuring virtual panels on various topics impacting equity, workforce, education and entrepreneurship during the COVID-19 crisis. The project is a collaboration with social impact entrepreneur Alfredo Matthew III, a CoBiz member and founder of the Future of Our Work podcast. Panels happen every Friday from noon to 1:30 p.m. Click here to view this coming Friday’s event, Closing the 2019-2020 School Year Strong: Lessons from the Field.

In addition, CoBiz’s “Coming Out Stronger Campaign” features a video series with tips from experts on navigating the impacts of the pandemic, from adjusting to work from home, accessing relief resources for small businesses and nonprofits, handling mental health impacts from sheltering in place, and even the ergonomic challenges of working from home.

Via its website, newsletter and social media, Alexander and the CoBiz staff are consistently compiling and sharing COVID-19 crisis resources for small businesses and nonprofits, from accessing federal stimulus grants to connecting them with a spreadsheet filled with various funds providing direct financial assistance.

“My team and I are just like every other stakeholder here — we too are impacted on a personal, professional, and financial level,” Alexander said. “For us at CoBiz Richmond, we shifted our attention to identifying resources to help people recognize and navigate these uncertainties in a healthy and informed manner, considering the mental, fiscal, physical stress each day presents.”

CoBiz Richmond is a project of the Chevron Richmond Refinery’s eQuip Richmond initiative, a multi-year $10 million investment that funds strategies to bolster communities in Richmond and North Richmond by encouraging small business development, preparing residents for the workforce and creating pathways to sustainable, living wages and careers in growth industries.