Asiala Dickson Rivera, a lifelong resident of Springfield, MA, started CCR Freight Logistics - the first female, black-owned business at the beginning of the pandemic. Since its inception, the company has provided education and career opportunities in the trucking logistics industry.
In March of 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act was introduced to help struggling businesses. Ms. Rivera also faced financial difficulties and needed capital to keep her business afloat. However, the application process turned out to be quite challenging and complicated. One of the biggest hurdles she faced was obtaining the necessary funding and navigating the complexities of the ARPA allocation grant application process. The lengthy and complex process required a lot of patience.
"My SBDC advisor introduced me to the world of networking, an invaluable aspect of my journey. Through my advisor's connections and mentorship, I have had the privilege of engaging with remarkable individuals and opportunities that I could have only dreamed of. Notably, these connections have afforded me the honor of meeting the Governor of Massachusetts on multiple occasions, as well as receiving recognition on both the state and city levels through Proclamations and Citations. An especially proud moment was when I was honored with the Black Excellence Award at the Massachusetts State House in April 2023, an achievement I am immensely proud of."
The assistance provided by the advisor at the Massachusetts SBDC Western Regional Office was invaluable and covered a broad spectrum of areas, ranging from technical expertise to strategic guidance. The advisor's dedication and expertise played a crucial role in helping navigate the complexities of the grant application process, resulting in a significant boost to the business operations.
Woo Juice, LLC opened to promote health and wellness in the community by selling freshly pressed juices, smoothies, and wellness shots. As a small start-up, owner Noel Stemn faced the challenge of operating the juice bar without a well-defined strategic plan and expansion strategy. After successfully establishing a location at the Midtown Mall in Worcester in February 2023, Noel was keen to open a second location in the very popular Worcester Public Market.
"We wouldn't be here if it weren't for the SBDC."
After communicating with Woo Juice at weekly meetings, SBDC Central Regional Office student interns, under the guidance of an SBDC senior business advisor, applied data to establish a robust regression model to predict the impact of various weather changes on future sales. The students used interactive Tableau dashboards to examine sales fluctuations and quickly identify root causes. The team created Google surveys to refine the strategy further, explore product and customer satisfaction metrics, and develop a loyalty program.
The SBDC team analyzed Woo Juice's customer data and selected an RFM model algorithm for customer segmentation. Continued meetings with Noel facilitated tailored solutions, including COGS and OPEX bifurcation, resolving transaction disputes, refining business valuation methods, and using QuickBooks to import and explore financial data from various sources. Moreover, the SBDC launched the Wednesday sales event with an eye-catching promotional flyer that was included in email campaigns.
The Massachusetts Export Center has been working with SemiNex Corporation for over ten years in the area of export regulatory compliance, Customs regulations, logistics, and export operational concerns. Most recently, with a change in staffing responsible for international trade operations and compliance within the company, the Export Center's assistance has focused on compliance with rapidly changing regulations. With the company's market growing in China, their concerns have centered on end use/users, compliance with the Military End Use (MEU) rule, and due diligence associated with avoiding these restricted parties. Additionally, with over half of the company's business derived from global sales, SemiNex has been intent on tightening compliance practices company-wide to safeguard the business from costly violations
SemiNex's compliance team engaged with the Export Center in late 2022 to conduct a comprehensive export compliance risk assessment and thorough review of the company's procedures to enhance its Export Management Compliance Program. This assessment identified compliance gaps in several areas, including screening, export reporting, routed export transactions, deemed exports, technology control safeguards, and export classification recordkeeping. The company's compliance team participated in training with the Export Center to better identify risks and implement procedures to strengthen compliance and operations practices. The Export Center has continued to provide support as Seminex fully optimizes its Export Management and Compliance Program.
Since conducting the assessment and prioritizing compliance areas of concern, the company has subscribed to an automated screening software solution in an effort to identify restricted parties and ownership of customers better to fully comply with the MEU rule and other applicable regulatory requirements. The Export Center continues to train SemiNex staff in identifying restricted parties, export reporting, documentation, and logistics. Since the Export Center started working with the company, SemiNex has grown significantl in China and South Africa and is seeing new opportunities in Europe. The company currently employs 22 people, including a recently hired Chief Commercial Officer for European Expansion, and a Regional Director for Greater China Expansion, and is in the process of hiring an additional 8 – 10 positions