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Community Outreach: Kingston Region Business Support Network (KRBSN)

In April 2020, under the leadership of the Centre for Social Impact, Smith School of Business partnered with the City of Kingston and Kingston Economic Development to provide student and faculty resources to help local businesses, not-for-profits, and social enterprises navigate and survive the impact of COVID-19.

Together they formed the Kingston Region Business Support Network (KRBSN) that connected undergraduate and graduate students from Smith with faculty mentors and local organizations in need of assistance. Organizations ranged from startups and small businesses like inns and coffee shops to manufacturing companies and not-for-profits seeking support such as research, strategic planning, building a digital presence, web site development, sales and marketing, e-commerce, writing government grant applications, and more.

Students from across Smith’s undergraduate, professional masters and graduate level research programs participated, bringing a diverse range of skills and work experience from small to large businesses and entrepreneurship. The program provided students with the opportunity to apply their skills to real-life cases.

Historic downtown Kingston

Funding for the initiative was provided by the businesses, Smith and Mitacs, a not-for-profit that brings together academia, private industry and government for research and training opportunities. Through the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship (BSI) program, which was established during the pandemic to help stimulate employment and support pivoting businesses, Smith students four-month paid internships to work with organizations in need of support.

As some non-profit organizations supported through the Centre for Social Impact were unable to pay their portion of the bill, generous donor funding from the Durland Family Fund helped cover some internship fees, while for-profit internships were supported by the Dean’s Innovation Fund at Smith.

Through its initial run between June 2020 and February 2021, Smith students participating in the BSI program supported 108 projects, mainly in Kingston and the surrounding area.

City of Kingston
Kingston Economic Development