Small business owners in northeast Columbia picked up tips on how to open doors to new opportunities at the Columbia Chamber’s Northeast Connection meeting Tuesday.

Several dozen local business owners crowded into Converspace in the Village at Sandhill to learn from Cheryl Cook, assistant manager of Richland County’s Office of Small Business Opportunity. The OSBO helps small and local businesses compete for contracts, including free training programs and a certification program that qualifies them for county business.

“Being certified can help you get in the door with the county,” Cook told attendees.

The OSBO’s directory of certified businesses is open to the public on its website. In addition to helping small businesses promote themselves, Cook said the directory is also a resource for small business owners to find vendors and services they need themselves.

“It can be very hard to navigate the system, to know how to put in bids,” added Mike Bell, Northeast Connection chairman. “Take advantage of the resources available to you.”

Small business owners can attend a free day-long networking and learning opportunity Sept. 11 at the OSBO’s Engage Richland event. The program is designed to connect small businesses to financing and contracting opportunities and will include a panel of lending experts and opportunities to pitch their concepts to decision makers.

More information about resources and programs for small businesses is available at

Categories: Blythewood, Business, Richland County

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