PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is teaming up with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to hold its first-ever virtual summit for small businesses in the state, with the hope that business owners will learn new strategies to help them through the pandemic.

It’s no secret that small businesses have been severely impacted by COVID-19. In fact, recent data from the small business pulse survey by the U.S. Census shows the national average of businesses which experienced significant negative impacts from the pandemic is approximately 33%.

Here in Rhode Island, the small businesses surveyed reported 6% above the national average.

“We’re hearing from these small businesses – I need help now, whether it’s financial, whether it’s guidance with social media,” Paula Fleming, the BBB’s local chief marketing and sales officer, said.

Fleming said the summit will feature industry experts and leaders who will cover various topics centered around professional and personal growth for small business owners.

“We hope to help small business owners take the crucial step back to rethink about their business plan and their business model, and leave with some actionable steps to make their business better,” she said.

The summit takes place on Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Fleming said business owners won’t need to attend the entire event.

“You can just go on, look at the agenda see what fits you with your business model, what you’d like to learn more about and then hop on the call,” she explained.

Fleming said there are 10 scheduled speakers.

“These are 30-minute increments of topic agendas, and I feel that it’s touched upon every industry,” she said.

As of Tuesday morning, Fleming said they already have 50 businesses signed up and anticipate they’ll have more than 200 by the time the event rolls around. She recommends businesses register in advance, but the entire event is free.