Small businesses are critical to our local economy -- and the creation of jobs.
That's why I'm inviting interested residents of Ohio's 2nd Congressional District to my first "Start-Up Summit: Launching & Growing a Business."
This free event will feature success stories shared by the founders of local small businesses, as well as the opportunity to ask questions of experts and exchange ideas.
Veteran business people who will speak include Tony Shipley, the chairman of Queen City Angels, a Cincinnati group whose members not only invest in local start-ups but also offer mentoring and coaching.
Several people who recently launched their own businesses also will speak, including Rosie Dean, a 10-year-old from Georgetown who is chief executive officer of Rosie's Turkey Corner. Her business in Brown County provides small, naturally raised turkeys for both restaurant and home consumption.
The Start-Up Summit will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Union Township Civic Center in Clermont County. Space is limited, so pre-registration is required.
Panel discussions will include experts in marketing, web design, social media, and funding.
This is not a jobs fair. It's for people who are interested in starting a business.
My hope is that the Start-Up Summit will be a springboard to help people develop innovative and sustainable businesses. Those start-ups could provide jobs for others.
It's never easy to become a successful entrepreneur. It requires more than a good idea and hard work. Fortunately, Greater Cincinnati is home to experienced business people who can help -- as mentors or counselors or by providing opportunities to exchange ideas.
Taking part in the Start-Up Summit will be representatives of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the nonprofits SCORE and Bad Girl Ventures, all of which provide free advice on how to start, fund, and manage a small business.
Rick Johnston, chairman of the Greater Cincinnati chapter of SCORE, will be a panelist on a session called Mentors & Resources: Secrets to Success. During a 25-year career at Procter & Gamble, Johnston held many positions in the product supply and new-product launch organizations. He previously was one of the owners of a small manufacturing company.
Others on the Mentors & Resources panel include John Melvin, director of the Small Business Development Center of the Clermont Chamber of Commerce, and Tony Shipley, who is not only chairman of Queen City Angels but also chairman of two start-ups, Transactive and CoupSmart. Two government officials with experience in the private sector also will be on the panel: Miami Township Trustee Ken Tracy is the president of TaleMed, a business he started with his wife, Libby; and Union Township Administrator Ken Geis is the former vice president for operations at Cincinnati United Contractors, a commercial real estate builder and developer.
Also participating will be Scott Miller, who owns two start-up software companies and is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Miami University. Another panelist will be Bill Cunningham, who has been directly involved in five start-ups and has coached hundreds of others. Cunningham is executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association. He is a past director of Northern Kentucky University's Entrepreneurial Institute, and before then was director of Xavier University's Entrepreneurial Center. He is on the board of advisers of the University of Cincinnati's Center for Entrepreneurship.
Cunningham and Miller will help judge and critique a session called the Summit Showdown, during which representatives of several cool start-ups will pitch their business plans. Other judges will be: Scott Avera, chairman of the Business Backer; Stephanie Smith, a vice president of Fifth Third Bank; and Bonnie Deer, business development specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Joshua Johnson, founder and creative director of the Mindbox Studios web design and development firm, will be on a panel called Marketing: Get the Word Out & Grow. Also on the panel will be Matthew Dooley, the founder and CEO of dooley media, which helps organizations use social media to grow business. He also teaches social media to MBA students at Xavier University.
A panel called Start-up Success: Women Share their Stories will be moderated by Candace Klein, founder and CEO of Bad Girl Ventures. Panelists will include Rosie Dean, the 10-year-old CEO of Rosie's Turkey Corner. Also on the panel will be Allison Kulage, CEO of Bare Knuckle Marketing; Chele Hobbs, co-founder of Pet Wants; and Robin Gentry McGee, founder of Just Great Foods Consulting as well as Functional Formularies.
As I noted earlier, seating is limited so pre-registration is required. To reserve a spot, email your name, address, and cell-phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org or call my Cincinnati district office at (513) 791-0381.