The program, called Profs on Call, matches School of Business faculty members with small-business members of the chamber for 15- to 20-minute appointments. Alan Shao, dean of the School of Business, said 21 faculty members have volunteered to be part of the program.
“Our business community helps our business school on a continuous basis through volunteering to speak to … students in their classes, helping us arrange internships, mentoring our students,” Shao said. “So this is one of our ways of saying thank you.”
Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, said the idea for Profs on Call came from a conference call among other chambers across the country. Another chamber was doing something similar, and Derreberry said he wanted to adapt the idea for the Lowcountry.
“During this COVID-19, as it impacts our region, we like being that connective tissue,” he said. “Where small-business members have needs and there are small, medium or large businesses or institutions that can help, we want to provide that as an opportunity.”
Chamber staff members assess the company’s needs and match the company to the faculty member with the right expertise.
“That way we’re looking to get good matches that will be meaningful to both the professor helping the small-business owner and then the small-business owner with the specific needs that they’re expressing,” Derreberry said.
The chamber has also reached out to Charleston Southern University to see if their business school faculty want to be part of the program, but Derreberry said the program is starting small to keep it manageable.
“We want to scale it appropriately depending on what small-business owner demand is,” Derreberry said.
He added that depending on how Profs on Call goes in its first month, the chamber might expand the program to businesses in the region that are not chamber members.