Cindy Burns is Dean of Business Programs at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Tamara Bryant is the Director of the Small Business Center there. Together they had a vision.
During National Small Business Week, they wanted to provide an event that would, in their words, “equip, empower and encourage people to start, run and grow a business.”
The seeds of their idea were sown at another of their events, the local chapter of 1 Million Cups, developed by the Kauffman Foundation to promote entrepreneurship. Burns and Bryant are the organizers who brought it to Fayetteville and are making it a success.
They applied their formula to the FTCC Small Business Summit held on Friday, May 6th with the same result, success! They outlined the program, secured a major sponsor, recruited an acclaimed keynote speaker, arranged breakfast and lunch, set up the panels, scheduled the breakout sessions and worked tirelessly to make it a memorable and valuable event for the attendees.
Gracious opening remarks were made by FTCC President Dr. Larry Keen, who made the attendees feel welcome and Jan Spell, President of the Hope Mills Chamber, who lauded the audience on their commitment to attend.
This free kick-off event was sponsored by Wells Fargo with help from Banking District Manager Deanne Robinson-Blue and Cape Fear Market President Greg Reames.
Robinson-Blue moderated the Access To Capital Panel discussion, of which Reames was a panelist along with SBA rep Don Spry, CEED Capital Loan Officer Scott Keen and Methodist University business professor/Angel Fund rep Pam Bierman.
Wells Fargo sponsorship enabled the FTCC Culinary Department to offer a fabulous breakfast spread including fresh coffee and juice, freshly baked blueberry and cranberry muffins, fennel raisin scones, petits pains au chololat and more.
Following breakfast was the first panel discussion, the Entrepreneurial Speaker Series: Local Entrepreneurs. This panel was comprised of four successful local business owners with experience ranging from 14 months to 30 plus years: Brenda Howell, owner and lead medical massage therapist at Healing Hands Body Therapy; Belle Martin, a successful Mary Kay Sales Director; Jerome Scott, The Insurance Guy, providing services since 1986; and Bill Bowman, founder and owner of Up & Coming Weekly Magazine.
The panel was moderated by Don Matheson, CEO of Matheson Marketing and Consulting, and President of Business Builders Network, a local business think tank. The discussion consisted of six questions posed to each of the panelists. Afterwards, the audience was allowed to ask their questions. The panelists shared information paired with their own experience.
Lunch was prepared and served by an FTCC Culinary Arts degree recipient, Chef Luis Irizarry and his crew from Elite Catering in Hope Mills NC. The tasty spread consisted of chicken marsala with mushrooms or pepper steak, rice and a medley of fresh vegetables in an Italian marinade. Dessert was strawberry short cake.
After lunch, ten individual breakout sessions were served up as well, covering subjects including power branding on social media, resources for veterans and taking a business to its next level.
Brenda J. Johnson, Etiquette Coach and author of the book Get Noticed!, commented, “I really felt this event was informative, inspirational and well worth attending. It was well-planned, the facilitators were excellent and the topics relevant. I also benefitted from the networking aspect.”
The keynote speaker, Denise Ryan of FireStar Speaking, started in Fayetteville and is now Raleigh-based. With the flair of an actress and command of her subject, she delivered an energetic presentation of wit, humor and business tips, which attendees could readily implement. Enthusiastic participants were treated to some signature fireball candy.
When asked her thoughts, Ms. Ryan said, “Not only did FTCC do a great job of hosting a fantastic Summit, it was exciting to see so many current and prospective business owners in attendance. I was impressed not only by the number of participants, but also by their quality. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Fayetteville!”
Indeed. The program went so well that Robinson-Blue mentioned in the wrap-up to the event that Wells Fargo is already interested in sponsoring next year’s event.
Cindy Burns sums it up this way, ““We wanted to provide learning opportunities for small business owners which help them find solutions and be more successful. The Business Summit also gives them a chance to network with others so that our economic community will thrive.”
Tamara Bryant offers this, “”Our goal here at FTCC-SBC is to be that local resource provider which equips you with useful tools and resources, then empowers you to use them. We also strive to be part of your support system which, through networking with successful business leaders, encourages you to never give up. The FTCC Small Business Summit accomplished both!”