UGA SBDC Partners with Southeastern Universities to Bring Business Education Programs to Rural Communities with Support From SBA Grant

Kim Broun

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC) has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to bring the popular Digital Marketing Bootcamp program to more rural towns across Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

In partnership with the Small Business Development Centers hosted by the University of Alabama and the University of Mississippi, the UGA SBDC was awarded a grant from the SBA’s Portable Assistance Program, funding designed to provide programs and services for small businesses in communities suffering economic hardship. The funds will be directed toward programming in rural areas of these states that have been impacted by weather-related disasters.

“There are areas in these states that have been negatively impacted from weather-related disasters over the past couple of years,” said Allan Adams, state director of the UGA SBDC. “This program will allow SBDCs to work with small businesses in rural areas to help bolster their overall economies by providing digital marketing strategies and techniques, thereby expanding the market areas for businesses’ products and services.”

In 2023, the UGA SBDC piloted the Digital Marketing Bootcamp, a three-hour training program that guides attendees through setting measurable marketing goals for their business and instructs how SEO, social media and technology can help them reach their goals. The program was held in 18 cities across Georgia, reaching 852 small business owners with great success—99.8% of attendees surveyed said the program met or exceeded their expectations.

The $300,000 grant provides $100,000 to each participating state’s SBDC program to execute the Digital Marketing Bootcamp program. The UGA SBDC can reapply for an additional two years of funding through the Portable Assistance Program for a total of $900,000 in funding over three years.

Thanks to the funding provided by the SBA’s Portable Assistance Program, the Digital Marketing Bootcamp will be replicated in Alabama and Mississippi. Faculty at the UGA SBDC are working with digital marketing experts at the Alabama and Mississippi SBDCs to produce an updated common curriculum for the 2024 Digital Marketing Bootcamps.

“The decision to emulate Georgia’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp program in Mississippi stems from its demonstrated success in rural markets across the state of Georgia,” said Sharon Nichols, state director of the Mississippi SBDC. “UGA SBDC’s experience with these bootcamps shows positive outcomes and significant participation. This success indicates the potential for similar positive impacts in Mississippi.”

Program attendees will benefit from the increased collaboration, as marketing experts from all three  SBDC programs work together to address the ever-changing digital marketing needs of small businesses.

“Nationally, and especially in the Southeast, SBDC programs often collaborate to address emerging issues and share best practices,” said Michael Brooks, associate state director of the Alabama SBDC. “This type of collaboration helps to drive high performance. The small businesses we serve can be confident that they’re receiving top-notch content from a trusted and proven resource.”

In Georgia, the 2024 Digital Marketing Bootcamps will be held in areas of weather-related disaster declarations by the SBA. This includes areas in middle and south Georgia impacted by Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Idalia and severe thunderstorms in April 2022 and January 2023.

There will be 15 Digital Marketing Bootcamp sessions available across the state. For additional information or to register for a session, visit