The Academic Mall on Stony Brook University’s main campus. The Suffolk County Government is working with Stony Brook University to help small businesses recover from the pandemic. ARACELY JIMENEZ/STATESMAN FILE

The Suffolk County Government is partnering with Stony Brook University to create a program that will provide assistance to small businesses recovering from and adapting to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The program, called SuffolkForward, is led by the Stony Brook University College of Business. It includes a gift card platform, a job board, a tech enhancement program, pandemic shift business workshops and a virtual expert network for small businesses in Suffolk, according to a May 1 tweet by Suffolk County Executive, Steve Bellone. 

“These five integrated programs, working together, support our main street businesses, and we’ll be providing more details about each of these initiatives and programs that are part of the main street initiative in the coming days,” Bellone said in a press conference on May 1.

Currently, the only known part of the program launched — the gift card platform established by the Huntington based eGifter — encourages consumers to purchase gift cards from local businesses. Along with eGifter, Bellone said that the Lions Club, Shift Group and Town Supervisors have also helped collaborate on SuffolkForward.

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Another tweet, on May 1, from Bellone revealed that both Stony Brook faculty and students will contribute to the Tech Enhancement part of the program, which will advise small business owners on different technologies that can be useful to them. 

Bellone said in the press conference that he could not provide any further details about the potential cost of the program or how it may affect Stony Brook University financially. 

In addition to SuffolkForward, county government supervisors are developing a number of planning groups to help with reopening different facets of the Suffolk County community. Bellone said the process began two weeks ago and that meetings are already starting to take place between these planning groups and different local government, community and business leaders.

To battle mental health issues that may arise from the coronavirus, Suffolk County Government established a Behavioral Health Wellness Campaign that offers mental health webinars to workers. Bellone announced that this program is now available to all Suffolk County residents. 

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Suffolk County will also be using testing to launch a contact tracing program. Although the county will start to reopen, Bellone urged the public to continue to abide by the guidelines established by health professionals.

According to the Suffolk County COVID-19 map, there are currently 34,376 cases of coronavirus in Suffolk County, with 7,344 of those cases in the Town of Brookhaven.

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