August 3, 2020

Paige Shiplett: Business as Usual

Local small businesses thrive thanks to countless tourists and residents who enjoy Fredericksburg’s charm and hospitality. But when COVID-19 came to town, many downtown shops were forced to shutter their storefronts and endure a decline in sales.

Paige Shiplett, finance and marketing coordinator for UMW's Center for Economic Development. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Paige Shiplett, finance and marketing coordinator for UMW’s Center for Economic Development. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Enter the UMW Center for Economic Development (CED) which swiftly switched its popular seminars to free webinars by speakers who donated their time and expertise. A slew of regional entrepreneurs who participated in two virtual series – overcoming business challenges and best practices for going online – said they were thrilled to have their needs addressed.

“Some were unaware of our resources before the crisis, and told us they are so grateful to have found us,” Paige Shiplett said. As finance and marketing coordinator for the CED, which houses the Small Business Development Center and a host of programs, she helped publicize these timely events.

Hailing from Cincinnati, Shiplett majored in marketing at Kent State University. Just a few years later, she’d find herself in the market for a new job. “When I moved here, I fell in love with Fredericksburg and Mary Washington,” said Shiplett, who vowed to work at UMW one day.

She soon got her chance. For the past two years, she’s put her degree to good use, managing the Center’s website, purchasing, and budget and reconciliation reports, and promoting innovative events and programs like StartUpUMW, which will be offered both virtually and in-person this fall.

“Real world learning and extracurricular activities are so important,” she said, “and even students doing the program online can learn about entrepreneurship or begin the steps to launch their business.”

Serving as her office’s point of contact during the pandemic, Shiplett often gets calls from local business owners who want to know how they can stay afloat. The Center is here to help, she tells them, whether it’s scheduling an online appointment with a consultant or walking them through applying for a loan.

In other words, she said, in these unusual times, it’s still business as usual.

 

Q: What’s a typical day like for you working at home?
A: I often get calls from small business owners sharing their hardships, especially when the quarantine first started. I began playing upbeat music as I worked to keep my mind at ease.

Q: What do you miss most about being at UMW?
A: Getting exercise by walking across campus, seeing familiar faces and updates to renovated buildings, and chatting with Mary Bullock in the cashier’s office as she writes my deposit.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I love wearing multiple hats, which means I’m never bored.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Right now, working remotely is hard because I am a people person. I miss interactions with clients and co-workers, so sometimes it can be hard stay my “cheerful self.” Cue upbeat music again!

Q: What are you doing in your free time?
A: I’ve refurbished my nightstands and taught my dog a new trick, and I’m now learning Adobe Illustrator.

Q: What would surprise people to learn about you?
A: One of my goals in 2018 was to write more letters, so I began writing to my grandma. The first time, she texted me back instead, but we ended up writing to each other for a year.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” – The Office, Season 9, Episode 23.