Summit April 12 to Help Entrepreneurs
The fifth annual Sandhills Regional Entrepreneurial Summit will truly be "regional" for the first time this year thanks to separate multi-county grants from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center.
One $10,000 grant enabled Moore County Partners in Progress to join with the economic development agencies in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties to form the TriSouth Entrepreneurial Network. The other helped the Moore County Chamber of Commerce partner with Chambers in Hoke, Richmond and Scotland counties to form the Entrepreneurial Network.
"Although we've always wanted to make the summit much larger and more regional, we didn't have the resources to do it, so these grants have really opened the door for us," said Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber. "The grants gave us much-needed resources to promote the summit on a larger basis."
Ray Ogden, executive director of Partners in Progress, said incorporating the networks into the summit is "a natural fit."
"We felt we could make the summit more impactive overall by bringing in a broader geographic base," Ogden said. "This is a chance to see and hear from the folks who are on the ground."
The summit, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 12 at Sandhills Community College (SCC), will also focus entirely on entrepreneurs and their experiences for the first time. In fact, the theme is "Lessons Learned."
Robert Moore, director of the Small Business Center at Robeson Community College, will kick things off with an hour-long discussion of the common mistakes that undermine a business.
"He does an excellent talk because he has owned five or six businesses," said Marilyn Neely, director of the Small Business Center at SCC and coordinator of the summit.
Ogden will then moderate a business-to-business panel featuring Heidi Dent, of Hirease in Southern Pines; Chris Gilder, of Meridian Zero Degrees in Aberdeen; and Jennifer Lang, of Situs Outsourcing Solutions in Robbins.
Coughlin will do the same with a business-to-consumer panel consisting of Cindy Ellison, of Pinehurst Patios; Rick Hall, of Pinehurst Blacksmith-Protech Powder Coating; and Con O'Mahoney, of O'Mahoney's Pub & Grill-The Bell Tree, both of which are in Southern Pines.
"We're hoping a cross-section of business people like that is really going to speak to the people who attend the summit," Coughlin said.
The morning session will end with business students from the SCC entrepreneurial certificate program describing their experience working since last fall with printmaking students and SUCCEED program participants to design, produce and sell art projects.
Neely will also announce a new $1,000 award for SCC entrepreneurship students funded by the family of the late Tony Parker, who owned the former Parker Hardware in downtown Southern Pines.
"The winner can do whatever they want with the money, whether it is used for tuition or to help launch their business," Neely said.
Lunch will be provided by Kenneth Collins, a graduate of the college's culinary arts program and owner of U-Pro Catering in Aberdeen.
Leslie Scott, director of the Rural Center's Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship, will close the summit with a discussion of what entrepreneurship means to North Carolina and how it specifically applies to the Sandhills.
"I plan on talking about the data on counties in the region in terms of what's driving their growth in the entrepreneurial economy," Scott said. "I'll also talk about the assets and initiatives in that region that support entrepreneurship and why I think there's some exciting prospects."
The event also features a "mini" expo of informational booths staffed by Sandhills SCORE, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Small Business and Technology Development Center, among others.
"The summit provides the insight entrepreneurs need to manage and grow their own successful businesses," Neely said. "It's always valuable to hear from others who have been through the trenches and managed to come out ahead."
Admission, which includes lunch, is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To reserve a seat, contact Neely at email@example.com or (910) 695-3938.
More like this story