ONUMBA.COM – It wasn’t the first time the city of Columbus has organized a city-wide clambake for small businesses, but it could be the finest and the biggest ever.
That was how a very satisfied Thomas H. Stephens, Assistant Director of the Mayor’s Equal Business Opportunity Office, described the 10th Mayor’s Small Business Conference & Expo that played out recently at the Hyatt at the Columbus Convention Center, Downtown. The theme of the gathering was “Go Forward: Driving Local Economic Growth through Small Business Inclusion and Sustainability.”
“This is outstanding. People loved it,” said Stephens, adding, “It was more than what we planned it to be. This year’s conference was a full day, previous ones were half a day. We brought in national speakers. It’s been great,” he said.
Stephens told Onumba.com that the main reason for holding the gathering was “to help small businesses move forward, that was the whole key, providing access to capital” and “helping small businesses link up with large businesses, that’s the whole point, helping them move forward through these rough economic times.”
But it was also to introduce the city’s small business community to the process of securing contracts with the city, which according to Mayor Michael Coleman, summed up to“more than $300,000 in contracting opportunities” in 2011.
In his greetings, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman said that “Columbus is committed to providing education, support and opportunity to these businesses as they continue to enhance our city’s image as a great place to start and grow a business.”
The event was well attended. Actually, many who sought to register for the conference were unable to do so because registration was closed days before the event. But for those who attended, it was all worth it.
“I think this has been a phenomenal event,” said Jessica Figgins, owner of Down Home Soul Catering. The conference, said Figgins, “has been an event where you feel comfortable coming in, small business or large business, you are not afraid to ask questions. They provided a lot of resources that I didn’t know were out there.”
Asked about the networking opportunities, Figgins replied: “It has been over the top. I got what I expected and more. So, I’m glad to be here.”
Luke Estice agreed.
“It’s really successful because I found a lot of different avenues that I can reach out to other businesses so I can expand my business,” said Estice, who owns two businesses, Luke’s Huy Road Barber, Beauty & Nail Shop and L&E Soul Food, along with a Food Truck.
“It’s really helpful,” he said.
Raymonia M. Lacy took the same view.
“It has been very helpful, the networking has been great,” said Lacy, who owns IJN Enterprises, LLC, a venture that is involved with business development and
Beside learning “a lot about how to maneuver through the city and the canals we should go through in order to obtain city contracts, Lacy said that she appreciated making connections with the city and other businesses.
Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com / Copyright 2012 Onumba.com. The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).