CHICAGO (CBS) — Business experts at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management are offering free advice to help local companies survive during the pandemic.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory shows us what it’s all about.

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The Richards-Wilcox factory in Aurora powered down when Illinois’ stay-at-home order came out. Workers were left in limbo, but not for long. The plant tweaked its machines to mass produce emergency hospital beds instead of shelving units.

Acrylic is now fashioned into sneeze guards at Chicago-based trophy and plaque maker Sports Awards. Seventy percent of the firm’s employees were furloughed in March, but now the company is hiring, because demand for its new product is so high.

GFP Chicago, a wholesale restaurant supplier, is now putting together boxes of fresh produce for home delivery.

We shared stories of businesses making big changes in a little amount of time with Northwestern University business professor Linda Darragh.

“That’s what I’m seeing, is a real difference in how local businesses are attacking the situation,” she said.

Where do you even start to become a coronavirus success story like Gold Eagle? The car accessory manufacturer is now producing and selling hand sanitizer.

“The first step is really to understand, once again, what is unique about you, and how I can retain my customers, and how can I deliver to them in this basically virtual curbside world?” Darragh said.

Still lost? Darragh, who is an entrepreneurship and innovation expert, just launched a consulting platform with Kellogg students and alumni. The initiative is intended for businesses struggling with the pandemic.

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“We have everything from consultants to digital marketers to technologists,” she said.

You never know what a fresh set of eyes might see when analyzing a company’s cash flow or social media posts.

“There is doom and gloom, for sure, but we’re seeing some very innovative and creative ways that local businesses are trying to make it through,” Darragh said.

A new study from Harvard University estimated three-quarters of small businesses have less than two months cash on hand for expenses.

The good news is Darragh’s advice for how to survive in these turbulent times is free.

To get in touch with Darragh and her team of experts, click here. Right now, the platform is only available for Evanston-based businesses, but might expand to more in the future.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

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Lauren Victory