BBB to Offer On-Demand Courses for Accredited Members

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Business owners who need courses or continuing education credits may soon be able to find them through the Better Business Bureau.

In 2024, the organization will launch BBB Learning, an on-demand learning platform that will be available for free to BBB-accredited businesses.

Online courses will be available in subjects such as ethics, cybersecurity, human resources, entrepreneurship, leadership, finance and small business management.

“BBB Learning is an amazing opportunity for small business owners,” said Melissa Ames, president and CEO of BBB of Mahoning Valley, which held its annual meeting Thursday at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center at Mill Creek Park. “We understand the challenges that they have where it is hard to find the time to fit in continuing education, something we all want to do for ourselves and our employees as well. This program that BBB is now offering allows businesses to do this on their own time, and they can pick and choose the courses that apply to their particular industry.”

In the BBB’s long-standing mission to root out scams, Ames also reported a rising demographic losing money to scammers is young adults, age 18 to 24. Through BBB’s Scam Tracker, Ames said young adults are being scammed in several ways, with the most prevalent scams involving employment opportunities with a median loss of more than $1,800.

“Everyone can fall victim to a scam, and everyone has a different risk level,” Ames said. “What really surprised me was the medium dollar loss. The way people search for jobs has certainly changed and evolved, especially during Covid. The expectations of the workplace are different, and how people advertise for jobs is different. So really people who are looking for jobs, they’re losing money. It’s very scary, and this is a group of people who clearly don’t have the money to lose.”

Jeff Ryznar, 898 Marketing president and BBB chair, speaks during Thursday’s event.

Additionally, young adults are losing money through online purchases, especially event tickets. Finally, crypto currency and investment scams brought median losses of more than $1,400.

“Unfortunately, that is money that is gone from our local economy,” said Ames, urging BBB members to warn young adults about scams and legitimate job resources.

The BBB offers a risk calculator, which can show someone what their particular risk is so they can know where they are vulnerable and how they can prevent fraud, according to Ames.

During the annual meeting, Ames reported that in 2023 the BBB provided 272,000 business profiles to businesses looking for trustworthy local businesses for partnerships. The BBB also provided more than 1,500 business reviews and 1,100 quotes, which directly connected customers to businesses.

Last year the BBB announced a partnership with the Youngstown Business Incubator to support a Youth Entrepreneurship Program. Ames reported that through that partnership, 275 youths participated and 10 youth-led business ventures began.

“We’re so proud of this partnership,” Ames said. “We’re looking forward to these students as they build their own businesses and become future business leaders here in the Mahoning Valley.”

Entering 2024, Jeff Ryznar, 898 Marketing president and BBB chair, said he knows a lot of businesses are concerned about the economic climate and challenges ahead. He suggested looking at who will help them be their best and help their businesses become better. And so, Ryznar suggested to look at the people in the room — BBB members.

Ethics and Integrity Scholarship applications are currently being accepted. The five $1,000 scholarships are for high school seniors who are affiliated with accredited businesses, their employees and their families.

Also, three people were elected to the board of directors Thursday: Thomas Duncan of Duncan’s Bath & Kitchen Center, Allison Thomas of Simon Roofing and Mark Wenick of Farmers National Bank.

Pictured at top: Melissa Ames, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Mahoning Valley.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.