Re­source fair aims to ig­nite busi­ness growth

Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Dept., Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land team up to in­spire en­trepreneurs, show resources avail­able

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By DAR­WIN WEIGEL dweigel@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @somd_bized­i­tor

Some­times it just takes a spark to ig­nite a con­fla­gra­tion. That’s the in­ten­tion of IG­NITE Charles County Busi­ness Re­source Fair: to start a con­fla­gra­tion of busi­ness growth.

The Charles County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Depart­ment has teamed up with the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land to put on a one-day busi­ness expo to con­nect busi­ness own­ers, en­trepreneurs and “dream­ers” with gov­ern­ment and quasi-gov­ern­ment resources geared to help busi­nesses get off the ground and help them grow — and in­spire them with short sto­ries from successful en­trepreneurs and busi­ness own­ers.

“This is a new thing. We started with the idea of bring­ing in all the resources that are out there to help busi­nesses to cre­ate a re­source event,” said Mar­cia Keeth, the depart­ment’s deputy di­rec­tor. “Then in de­cid­ing what else to have as a part of this event we de­cided to add in an ‘ig­nite’ ses­sion, and so we, in mak­ing plans, said let’s just call it IG­NITE Charles County, be­cause it just fits. Ev­ery bit of it has to do with ig­nit­ing busi­ness growth in the county.”

Keeth said that lo­cal, state and fed­eral agencies, such as the Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter, the Mary­land Depart­ment of Com­merce and Mary­land’s TEDCO, as well as many oth­ers, have com­mit­ted to par­tic­i­pate in the event.

The ig­nite part is a se­ries of six pre­sen­ta­tions lim­ited to five min­utes each from en­trepreneurs telling their sto­ries of suc­cess.

“Twice dur­ing the day we’re go­ing to have an ‘ig­nite’ ses­sion,” Keeth said. “Ig­nite ses­sions … are done a lot sur­round­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial ac­tiv­i­ties where pre­sen­ters are given a time limit — and in some cases a [Pow­erPoint] slide limit, but we’re not go­ing to get into that. Each pre­sen­ter will have five min­utes to share his or her story about what ig­nited their de­sire to be­come an en­tre­pre­neur and what ig­nited their suc­cess — mean­ing how they were able to make that tran­si­tion from start­ing a busi­ness to be­ing prof­itable.”

The six pre­sen­ters are from cat­e­gories that make up the IG­NITE word:

In­dus­try — An­gela Meltan-Fray and Richard Fray of Dat Jerk Caribbean Char­grill in Wal­dorf;

Gov­ern­ment — Guy Black of Black­out In­ves­ti­ga­tions and Security Ser­vices in Wal­dorf;

Net­work­ing — Mike Thielke of hotDesks on the East­ern Shore;

In­no­va­tion — Scott Decker of Car­di­nal Sci­en­tific in Wal­dorf;

Tenac­ity — Kim Briscoe-Tonic of Briscoe-Tonic Funeral Home in Wal­dorf; and

En­tre­pre­neur — Som­nath Sen­gupta of Pow­er­house Con­sult­ing Group.

“I think we’ve got a pretty good crew as­sem­bled,” said Tommy Lug­in­bill, di­rec­tor of CSM’s En­tre­pre­neur and In­no­va­tion In­sti­tute, who has been work­ing on the project with the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment depart­ment and is play­ing host.

He said he’s ex­cited about the for­mat and thought the short, en­er­getic pre­sen­ta­tions would be at­trac­tive to young in­no­va­tors and fu­ture busi­ness own­ers.

“Rather than peo­ple just sit­ting and lis­ten­ing to speeches all day, we wanted peo­ple to learn some­thing while walk­ing around and talk­ing to peo­ple,” Lug­in­bill said. “I thought of my­self as an at­tendee and would want to go to a con­fer­ence like that. That’s how I thought about it.”

“We’ll do it twice, at 10 a.m. and again at 1 [p.m.], with the idea that busi­ness peo­ple can time their at­ten­dance to what fits in their schedule,” Keeth said of the pre­sen­ta­tions. All six pre­sen­ta­tions, at five min­utes each, will take place at both time slots.

The rest of the event is de­signed like an expo with ta­bles for up to 30 or­ga­ni­za­tions. Busi­ness own­ers, en­trepreneurs and what Keeth called “dream­ers” — those that think they might like to start a busi­ness some­day — will be en­cour­aged to walk around and talk with re­source pro­fes­sion­als and find out what’s avail­able to help them re­al­ize a dream or grow their young busi­ness.

“No mat­ter how many times we do stuff like this, I’m al­ways amazed and de­lighted that, be­fore the day’s out, some­body’s go­ing to come up to me and say ‘Thank you so much for do­ing this; we had no idea all these resources were here. This has been great.’ It hap­pens ev­ery time that I’ve been to an event like this,” Keeth said.

While the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment depart­ment has done smaller events with just a hand­ful of or­ga­ni­za­tions at­tend­ing, Keeth said this will be the first of this size, and the first with the ‘ig­nite’ as­pect.

The event is free for ex­hibitors and at­ten­dees with a light break­fast avail­able in the morn­ing and snacks avail­able through­out the day. For those that want to make it a lunch trip, the col­lege’s cafe­te­ria will be avail­able to ev­ery­one.

IG­NITE Charles County is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fri­day, May 12, at CSM’s Busi­ness and In­dus­try (BI) Build­ing on the La Plata Cam­pus. While the event is free, or­ga­niz­ers re­quest an RSVP at www.ig­nitecharles. eventbrite.com.

“If it’s successful, we’re def­i­nitely go­ing to repli­cate it again,” Lug­in­bill, an en­tre­pre­neur him­self, said. “I’m ex­cited to be a part of it.”

Keeth said she was hop­ing it would turn into an an­nual event, and could be con­sid­ered a suc­cess if it just in­spired even one new busi­ness or helped one be more successful.

“If one busi­ness shows up and ends up tap­ping into a re­source that maybe changes the course for that busi­ness, then it’s been a suc­cess,” Keeth said.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CHARLES COUNTY ECO­NOMIC DE­VEL­OP­MENT DEPART­MENT

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