Hinesville officials say the first-ever Mayor’s Small Business Conference next week is aimed at serving small-business owners and assuring any with entrepreneurial ambitions that the city is business-friendly.
The conference is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 20 at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center.
Assistant City Manager Ken Howard told City Council during its meeting Thursday that it was fitting that he present information about the conference at that time because last week was National Small Business Week. He said the purpose and theme of the conference is to help would-be small business owners and entrepreneurs “improve their bottom line” to own and successfully operate a business in Hinesville.
During an interview Monday, Howard said the conference also will help dispel myths about Hinesville being a difficult place to do business.
Howard, who also is head of the Department of Community Development and executive director of the Hinesville Development Authority, said the conference will include a session for what he described as “success stories” of local business owners who have gone through the process of getting a license, used the available services and resources and now run a successful business.
Howard said city leaders have heard negative comments by those who’ve said they had difficulty starting a business in the city, but they want to focus on the success stories. For every one applicant who says Hinesville is not business-friendly, Howard said he can name 10 others who would disagree.
He said the conference also will include information for would-be veteran and minority business owners. Howard said Mayor Jim Thomas has invited Col. Kevin Gregory, the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander, and his staff to attend the conference to address concerns of soldiers who are leaving the service and want to start a small business in the community.
He added that the keynote speaker for the conference, Delisa Espada, owns two small businesses, Strategic Business Solutions and Curves and has served as a consultant with the city on its Minority and Women Business Enterprise program.
Howard said Espada will speak on “Growing Your Business,” including how businesses can improve the bottom line. Espada has conducted workshops to help minorities start a small business.
“We want to make sure it’s an all-inclusive conference,” he said. “We know we can’t cover everything, but we’re trying to address those immediate concerns.”