National Small Business Week kicks off in the Midlands on Monday
National Small Business Week kicks off in the Midlands next week to connect owners to resources and support to build their business. The city of Columbia has teamed up with the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce to host the second annual event.
“Small businesses are what we call the backbone of our economy both locally and nationwide,” said Tina Herbert, director of the city’s Office of Business Opportunities. “It’s very important for us to give them the tools to survive.”
National Small Business Week was established by the Small Business Administration in 1963 as way to recognize the contributions of the nation’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. It lasts from Monday until Friday and includes a host of events to introduce small business owners to the community. The city’s signature event, the Small Business Week Conference, will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
Herbert said she was approached by Lee Catoe of the Chamber three years ago to get involved with Small Business Week. The city held a news conference in 2012, and the following year, hosted their first small business conference. This year’s conference includes sessions on securing contracts with the city of Columbia, finding free and low cost technology resources and sustaining women-owned businesses.
“The key thing we want business to know locally is that the city of Columbia and the mayor is really concerned about small businesses,” Herbert said. “It’s really important for us to show our appreciation.”
The conference will feature keynote speaker Louis B. Lynn, president of ENVIRO Ag Science, the largest African-American owned landscape firm in South Carolina. His has done work at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, the University of South Carolina Colonial Center and BMW Manufacturing.
Richland County will participate in the “Doing Business” session from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Chamber. The county is currently highlighting its Small Local Business Enterprise Program to encourage local firms to apply for transportation penny road projects.
“Small business is certainly an important servant of local communities,” said Justine Jones, assistant director of theprogram. “But communities also help sustain small businesses.”
Small Business Week also extends beyond downtown as the North Columbia Business Association hosts a series of meet and greets with business up along North Main Street.
“For Small Business Week, we aim to introduce, reacquaint, and remind residents and visitors of the wonderful businesses that we have in our community. We encourage everyone to not only patronize the businesses that provide economic support to our community, but to get to know the owners and their staff. They may be surprised at the wide array of services and products the businesses have to offer,” says Sabrina Odom, North Columbia Business Association executive director.
Chamber events can be found at the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce website. More information about how to register for the Small Business Week conference can be found on the city of Columbia’s website.