The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today reported that 230 D.C. small business owners and residents participated in yesterday's Small Business Fair, with over 75 one-on-one counselors, resource providers, and federal agency procurement officers. The morning plenary session and workshops were at full capacity.
"This year's small business fair improved upon years past and served as an invaluable, yet free, informational and networking resource for hundreds of D.C. residents and small business owners," said Norton. "Encouraged by the overwhelming success of the event, thanks to the participants and business counselors and experts, my staff and I are committed to making further improvements for next year."
A one hour plenary session featured remarks from Norman H. Jones, Sr., the President and CEO of the D.C. small business of the year, Capitol Energy Group, which has received major federal and local contracts, on why he has succeeded as a small business owner, and from Small Business Administration Director Antonio Doss on available help for small businesses. D.C. small business owners and residents spoke up and asked questions after the workshops and the one-on-one counseling sessions, tailored to their individual interests and needs, led by experts from government agencies, banks, insurance agencies, local law firms, and non-profit organizations.
Although all the workshops were full, the "Government Procurement" workshop drew a standing-room only crowd to hear from procurement experts in federal agencies. Another highlight was the workshop "How to Finance Your Small Business" -- moderated by Angela Franco, CEO of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where small businesses heard from representatives of the Latino Economic Development Center, the Bank of Georgetown, the D.C. Department of Securities, Insurance, and Banking, and the Washington Area Community Investment Fund on how to take advantage of microloans through community investment funds, and the D.C. Collateral Support program that provides the District with $13.2 million to support small businesses in D.C. Other successful workshops included "How to Become a Certified Business Enterprise with the District Government," "Insuring Your Business," "E-Verify and Hiring Practices," and "The Affordable Care Act and Your Business." The variety of workshops available provided small businesses the opportunity to focus on all aspects of owning a business, from finance, to hiring practices, to insurance, to doing business with the federal and local governments.
The Information and Resource Hall was also crowded with the constant humming of conversations between small businesses and banks, insurance companies, and counseling organizations in the District. With 30 different tables for organizations across the District, small businesses had a second opportunity to ask questions and interact with specialists. For example, the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement had small businesses register with their agency on the spot, enabling small businesses to compete for future contract opportunities with the District of Columbia government.