(pictured above: Attendees and vendors mill around the inaugural Winston-Salem/Triad Minority Business Expo.)
It is said that in business, it is not what you know but who you know.
Dozens of small and minority business owners surely had that in mind Aug. 16 when they took part in the inaugural Winston-Salem/Triad Minority Business Expo.
The free event was held over several hours at the Enterprise Conference and Banquet Center. Reginald McCaskill, president and CEO of Maximum Enterprises Inc., organized the event, which not only brought businesses face-to-face with customers, but provided seminars and other tools for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“This has been a dream of mine for some time. This gives minority businesses the opportunity to be exposed, highlight and showcase their gifts and talents,” McCaskill said. “I think the contributions to the ultimate infrastructure of any city are the mom and pop organizations. It is important that people who have visions and dreams should have the opportunity to be exposed when it comes to their businesses.”
Emma S. Allen, a State Farm Insurance agent, thought the event would help garner her company some exposure.
“With us being a new business to Winston-Salem and a small business, I felt it could be a great opportunity for us to network with other business owners, as well as people who may potentially might use our insurance and financial services,” Allen said. “It has really been a great day and a great opportunity for us to meet other business partners.”
Mary Kay consultant Treva Sharpe said she liked the idea of attending an event with fellow business owners with similar backgrounds and business struggles.
“I’m glad to be here with other African-American business owners,” said Sharpe, who gave out prizes and complimentary facials during the event.
Oglacia Patterson was among those who passed through the expo, perusing vendors’ wares and chatting with them about their products and services.
“I was just driving by and decided to stop. The expo is nice. There is a lot of friendly people and a positive attitude here,” she said.
Workshop offerings included “How to Start Your Business with Little or No Money,” “How to Develop a Business Plan” and “Marketing for Success.” Session leaders included Joe L. Dudley Sr. of Dudley Beauty Corp.; Darryl Little of Micro Enterprises; Winston-Salem State University professor Dr. Notis A. Pagiavlas; and Walter Farabee of the City’s Minority and Women Business Enterprises.
“We wanted to bring the experts right here for those in the community,” said McCaskill, who thought the expo would not be complete or effective without a slate of informative workshops.
Althea Dortch is a budding entrepreneur; she found lots to keep her busy at the expo, including some of the workshops. She would like to open her own transitional home for homeless women with substance abuse and mental issues.
“Right now, it is just a vision but I came out to network with people in hopes that they can connect me to some more people to get the business started,” Dortch said. “I have received some information from people who have started a business that can point me in the right direction or mentor me.”
McCaskill said that he has received a lot of positive feedback about the event and promises that more expos will be held. He has already booked the Enterprise Center for the weekend of Aug. 15, 2015.
“The more that we (small and minority businesses) connect, the stronger our bond will be … This will be an annual event, and we look forward to next year,” he said.
Other vendors at the expo included the following: Beautiful Butterflies, Winston-Salem Black Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina Black Repertory Company, Cloud 9 Web Designs, CNA Professional Support Services LLC, Dudley Q+, Jessup and Probst law firm, Forsyth County Department of Social Services, Edward Jones Investments, The Enterprise Conference and Banquet Center, The Experiment in Self-Reliance, Inc., For All Occasions, Forever Living Products, HOPE Counseling & Consulting Services, Inc., J5 Cleaning Solutions, LLC, Jewellery Unique, Joe Daniel State Farm, K*Metamorphosis Counseling Services, KOOL Radio, Ladies First shoe boutique, Luscious Libations, Mac Productions, Mary Kay, Maximum Enterprises Inc., McHoward Business Coaching Inc., Posh Party Palace, Rand Street Construction, SCAR Foundation, Simply Soul Restaurant, Truliant Federal Credit Union, Vance Parker Law PLLC, The Winston-Salem Chronicle, Winston-Salem State University, Winston Salem Tee’s and the Winston-Salem Transit Authority.
For more information about the expo, call Maximum Enterprises of Winston Salem Inc. at 336-422-7769 or visit www.maximumenterprisesinc.com.