WINCHESTER — Making connections is an integral part of both business ownership and alumni affairs for colleges and universities.

Lord Fairfax Community College is making strides to put those two aspects together, starting an alumni business directory to connect local communities to local businesses while celebrating accomplishments of those who have come through the college.

“The business directory was something that I always wanted to do as soon as I learned we were going to be more active with alumni affairs,” LFCC Outreach and Alumni Coordinator Kelli Williams said. “Once we laid the groundwork for that, we were able to pursue special projects like the business directory.”

Williams and the project group at LFCC worked with local chambers of commerce and utilized email and social media to track down local businesses with ties to the college.

“Some of them opened restaurants, some offer really unique services, some are lawyers. It’s all across the board with how far they’ve gone,” she said. “So we wanted to connect community members with our alumni business owners.”

Word traveled and gained support of alumni both in the area and across the country.

“The community, they were on it. That speaks volumes to how great our alumni community is,” Williams, who is also an LFCC alum, said. “Most of it was word of mouth.”

Williams said the college created an alumni website — found at www.lfcc.edu/alumni — to help connect alumni and the next logical step was to add a special spot for business owners.

“At the same time that people are connecting with businesses, we wanted to connect them to volunteer opportunities and things like that,” she said. “We wanted to help bring people together. The conversation was more about being a place for people to go and feel connection.”

Williams hopes the web page that houses the business directory becomes more interactive in the near future, showcasing photos, business profiles and promoting local events sponsored by businesses in the area.

Williams said COVID-19 provided “perfect timing” for launching the directory and alumni website but that she hopes it will continue to grow during post-pandemic times.

“It’s bigger than just this moment during COVID,” she said. “It was a good time to do it, but we want to go past this.”

Williams said it’s the hope of the project group, which consisted of several alumni, to continue to provide support for local businesses.

“Support is huge,” she said. “I think about all of the work we’ve already done with businesses with training and working with the Small Business Development Center to provide support, this feels like another level of support and celebration of our local businesses.”

To learn more or to join the directory, visit www.lfcc.edu/alumni/alumni-owned-business-directory or email alumni@lfcc.edu.

— Contact Matt Welch at mwelch@winchesterstar.com