Microsoft joins consortium to help small businesses adopt and utilize broadband

In response to the National Broadband Plan, released in March by the Federal Communications Commission, a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education announced the formation of a public/private partnership to encourage broadband adoption by US small businesses. Known as the “Counselors to America’s Small Business,” SCORE has teamed with a group of tech industry heavyweights, the FCC and the Small Business Administration. Dave Waldrop, Director of Strategic Alliances at Microsoft, spoke to CivSource about his company’s role and the broader goal of unleashing the power of broadband to the nation’s small businesses.

According to the SCORE website, more than nearly 12,500 volunteer counselors provide individual mentoring and business workshops for start-ups and budding entrepreneurs. In addition to the face-to-face curriculum, the group provides online resources and most recently announced the formation of a broadband consortium.

“We share the same viewpoint that small business is a vital part of the US economy, and good, rich access to the Internet is critical,” Dave Waldrop, Director of Small Business Marketing at Microsoft said in an interview. “Pretty much every small business needs rich access to internet connectivity – for promoting, marketing, e-commerce, or if its simply for finding information. Driving access and utilization of broadband is an important component to the nation’s economic recovery. “

For their part, Microsoft is donating financial resources, as well as access to a broad array of products and an ecosystem of Microsoft small business partners and specialists. “Our network of 300,000 partners includes independent companies that provide technology, sales, and services advice to small businesses. It’s a channel we’ve been nurturing since Microsoft has been in business.”

Perhaps Microsoft’s most important contribution, Mr. Waldrop suggested, is being able to leverage the combined knowledge of their network and his company’s own small business expertise in helping SCORE develop a practical curriculum to get small businesses the technical capabilities they need.

“Our bigger value is that Microsoft can be part of the effort to educate and be part of a process to develop curriculum that their mentors can provide to small business. We can help provide knowledge on how to adopt and leverage broadband to start, grow and build their businesses.”

Mr. Waldrop said the SCORE partnership and the broadband consortium is a natural extension of Microsoft’s own small business outreach.

“There’s good synergy between us and SCORE’s charter, especially with the investments we have made to develop our small business channel and small business specialists.”

Other companies involved with the SCORE broadband consortium include AT&T, Best Buy, Cisco, Constant Contact, Google, HP, Intuit, Skype and Time Warner Cable Business Class. For information on SCORE, visit www.score.org.

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