NAACP event to help minority businesses network in Springfield

Networking and marketing skills are crucial for a business to succeed, but many potential entrepreneurs in Clark County don’t have the tools and resources they need to get their ventures of the ground.

The NAACP, with help from several other area organizations, hope to offer advice and information during an event to celebrate minority businesses Friday, Sept. 9 at Clark State Community College.

The Celebrating Minority Businesses event will feature guest speakers and offer a chance for local business owners to network and share ideas, said Denise Williams, president of the Springfield Unit of the NAACP.

“There are a lot of entrepreneurs who have gone unrecognized and unnoticed,” Williams said of local minority business owners.

Several organizations are collaborating to host the event, including Clark State Community College and the Minority Business Development office at the City of Springfield.

The goal is to provide resources and information to inspire local businesses and help them succeed, said Cheryl Dover, minority business development coordinator for the city. Guest speakers from across the Miami Valley will discuss their experiences, and the event will offer information on everything from securing initial financing to how to market a business.

“Businesses can be very successful here, but it takes a lot of work,” Dover said.

Small business owners often have the right ideas, but either don’t have strong connections locally or don’t know how to market their business or develop a long-term strategy, said Corey Holliday, director of community outreach at Clark State. Entities like Clark State, the Chamber of Greater Springfield or city officials can often help, but many first-time business owners don’t know where to turn.

It can be tough for minority business owners, who sometimes have the perception they’re on their own, Dover said.

“I think the key thing is you’re not alone,” Dover said. “There are private and government entities out there to help, but you’ve got to let them know you’re there.”

Jasmine Brown, one of the event’s guest speakers, opened the De’Lish restaurant in downtown Dayton about six years ago. The restaurant business is competitive, but Brown quickly developed relationships with a handful of other downtown business owners who operate businesses from cupcake shops to a spa. The group of about five women calls themselves the Downtown Browns. They share resources and tips, but also make sure customers know about each of the other businesses.

“We’re all spread out throughout downtown so we try to make sure we’re telling people about each business and all of our families support each other,” Brown said. “It’s just really important to get out and support your community, not only where you live but where you work.”

Clifford Borden owns Pritchet’s Shoe Services, 10 N. Light St. in Springfield, where he’s worked for more than four decades. The business specializes in shoe repair, but also fixes wallets, baseball gloves, purses, dog leashes and even harnesses for horses.

One of the keys to the success of the business, he said, is that there are few other similar businesses in the region. It’s also important to treat customers fairly and offer a good price, he said.

His advice for new business owners is simple: “Come to work every day and just do it.”

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