by Mahala Nyberg

After two years, ANCA’s Center for Pandemic Response (ANCA CPR) program has reached its close. As 2023 also comes to an end, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the project, what we learned and our intentions moving forward. 

Having joined the ANCA CPR team as a program navigator just over halfway through the project’s duration, I enjoyed getting to know our local entrepreneurs and learning about the breadth of work being achieved by our North Country businesses. Throughout my time as an ANCA CPR Program Navigator, I have been amazed at the creativity, drive and entrepreneurial spirit of our clients. 

A crucial aspect of this innovative program was our team taking the time to build relationships with our business clients. Getting to know each of them allowed us to better understand their needs on an individual level, respond to emergent needs and become a go-to resource hub for businesses to return to. Equipped with this understanding, we have been able to work together with individual businesses to find creative ways to tackle both their current and new challenges. As a program navigator and primary contact for many of our clients, it is exciting to hear from a business owner about the progress they have made or a new idea they want to explore. 

It is also through these relationships that we were able to learn valuable lessons about the needs of our businesses and the ways we can best serve them. Over the course of the ANCA CPR program, we came to recognize that a majority of our small business owners are operating micro businesses and that growth-focused services generally do not meet the needs of these entrepreneurs who are more concerned about stability. While skill building is a key step for entrepreneurs at any stage, some businesses require creative solutions and tailored support. For example, we found that while educational programming serves as a great introduction to various technical skills, when possible one-on-one follow-up support is also needed to help businesses overcome barriers to success. 

Looking toward the future of small businesses support services at ANCA, we want to sustain the momentum from the ANCA CPR by continuing those components that worked well and making adjustments to offer even better support for our business clients. Overall, we will continue to help businesses meet current needs with one-on-one program navigation while listening to our business owners about emergent needs in the post-pandemic economy. We hope to broaden our communications and focus on deeper individual business connections, while offering in-depth technical service programming that specifically addresses needs identified towards the end of the ANCA CPR program term. 

Moving forward, ANCA CPR business clients can still expect to be kept informed of any upcoming programming opportunities or new resources and are encouraged to continue reaching out with any support needs. Businesses who have not previously engaged with the ANCA Small Business team are also encouraged to reach out to learn about upcoming programming and available resources.

You can get in touch with the ANCA Small Business team by emailing

To read the ANCA CPR Closing Report, visit  

If you’d like to support these and other ANCA programs that build strong and equitable systems for small businesses, local food and clean energy, we’d love to welcome you as an ANCA member. Join today at  

Photos (top to bottom): A few of the 300+ businesses and nonprofits served by ANCA CPR: Tug Hill Artisan Roasters in Lowville, NY; The Mustard Seed in Little Falls, NY; Ausable Theater in Au Sable Forks, NY.


* ANCA CPR is funded through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and The Mastercard Impact Fund, which is administered by The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.