By Parisa Zagat, Policy Programs Manager

Today, our Facebook Community Boost team landed in Buffalo, New York. Over the next few days, we’ll be training small businesses and community organizations on how to use social media to grow, while helping Buffalonians gain the digital skills they need to compete in today’s economy.

Partnering with the SUNY Erie Community College

Our visit to Buffalo builds upon work we’ve been doing since 2011 to offer tools, training and technology to support the more than 80 million businesses on Facebook worldwide. As an outgrowth of this work, last month we made a pledge to train 1 million small businesses and individuals by 2020.

Today we’re pleased to announce a partnership with SUNY Erie Community College (SUNY Erie) to build a Digital Marketing Certificate Program. The new program will fall under SUNY Erie’s Workforce Development offerings, which have been among the highest demand and fastest growing programs at the College. In addition:

  • The program will be +30 credit hours;
  • Include in-demand digital skills in social media marketing using Facebook and Instagram;
  • Be accessible to students across 48 states, through SUNY Erie’s distance learning curriculum.

SUNY Erie joins a handful of institutions of higher education to develop similar digital programs, including Central New Mexico Community College, Des Moines Area Community College, City Colleges of Chicago, and Boston’s Bunker Hill and Roxbury community colleges. Along with these institutions, ECC is among the first of 20 community colleges we hope to team up with to offer digital marketing training by the end of the year.

Understanding Local Digital Skills Needs

In a survey of the Buffalo community, we learned that having these digital skills is an important part of business growth, hiring decisions and competitiveness in the job markets.

  • Over 3 in 4 small businesses told us that when looking to hire employees for their businesses, digital skills were important and 6 in 10 specifically said that social media skills were important;
  • 50% said that creating a social media presence for their company is important for growth, but only 10% said that they’re excellent at this today

Facebook is committed to helping small businesses and job seekers gain the skills they need for success. We hope that both the trainings this week and the new Digital Marketing Certificate program at SUNY Erie will have a strong and positive impact on the Buffalo community.

Ignite Buffalo Award Ceremony

In addition to training, we understand that many small businesses need resources — like mentorship and access to capital — to get off the ground. That’s why we’ve teamed up with 43North and other national partners like M&T Bank, Quickbooks, Amazon Web Services, WordPress.com and WooCommerce to support the Ignite Buffalo program.

Ignite Buffalo combines the expertise of national and local partners to give 27 promising local small businesses access to a capital infusion of $25,000 – $100,000 and access to 12 months of personalized mentorship so they have the support they need to reach their next stage of development.

On Wednesday, July 11th from 6:00PM – 8:00PM at Facebook Community Boost, the top seven Ignite Program finalists will present their business plans on stage before a set of judges, and after a final deliberation, all 27 grant winners and awards will be announced. This will be an exciting event, and we welcome local Buffalo small businesses to come out, support their peers and discover the winners on Wednesday night.

We are excited to continue to listen and learn from local businesses across the Buffalo region. Come join us and register for free or find the latest city announcements, news and program schedules at facebook.com/communityboost.