For the 15th year, the Tyler Junior College Small Business Development Center will host the Women Entrepreneurs Conference.
“We hold this annual conference to support women-owned businesses because they are vital to the economy,” said Don Proudfoot, Tyler Small Business Development Center director. “Women own more than 10 million businesses in the United States and are growing at twice the rate of all businesses in this county.”
He said women have composed 40 percent of the local center’s clients over the past 15 years, and “they are the most diligent at starting or expanding a business.”
Holly Rand, of Project Progress, said the Small Business Development Center always has hosted the event but this year hired her event management business to refocus and rebrand it.
The name was changed from the Women Entrepreneurship Luncheon to the Women Entrepreneurs Conference because workshops, business development and professional growth opportunities have been added in the last few years. It has been changed from being held in August at the Rose Garden Center to February at the CrossWalk Center to accommodate more attendees at the bigger venue. Holding it during the hot summer may have been keeping people from attending, she added.
With the old space, they were limited to about 300 people and 15 exhibitors attending, but now will have room for an almost unlimited turnout and 45 exhibitors, Ms. Rand said, adding that they are already planning to expand the 2014 event.
Ms. Rand said they hope to meet their regular attendance of 300, but their goal is to sell 500 tickets. The deadline to buy the $30 tickets is Friday.
She said the Small Business Development Center has a large clientele of women-owned businesses and women tend to reach out to find educational resources and seek this type of environment to promote their businesses. But men interested in or who have women-focused businesses are welcome, she added.
Mrs. Craddock taught English for 24 years before retiring in 2003. About 30 years ago, she started selling jewelry to fellow teachers before opening a tiny shop in the early 1980s and also sold her jewelry in Canton. Mrs. Craddock has expanded her business to include two Tyler stores, as well as shops in Lindale, Lufkin, College Station and Fredericksburg. Katie’s sells fashion costume jewelry, sterling silver, shoes, accessory clothing, luggage, purses and hair goods.
Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass will serve as the master of ceremonies during the luncheon, which also will include a fashion show by local retailer Pink Tumbleweed.
Morning workshop speakers include Brian Brandt, of Core Insights, an expert in business leadership who will speak about business “Branding: Creating the Right Perception.” Carolyn Brooks, an author, speaker, business owner and entrepreneur as a master teacher, will present “7 Habits of Highly Successful Women.”
Ms. Rand said the panel who will be taking questions is made up of professionals who often have to be paid for their advice.
The panel of business professionals who conduct a question and answer session include Proudfoot; Michael W. Stevens, of Gollob, Morgan Peddy & Co, P.C.; Gay Smith, of Austin Bank; and attorney Richard Lottman.
An afternoon workshop will feature nationally recognized retail management consultant Marc Wilson. In 1975, Wilson started his retail career as co-owner of the largest distributor of Earth Shoes in the United States. He has held executive positions with Britches of Georgetown, Crown Books, Circuit City, The Bicycle Exchange, Ecampus.com ad Storetrax, Inc. He is a retail and restaurant consultant, and his seminar will focus on helping retail businesses determine why their offering is unique, who their customers are and how to reach them.
Tickets can be bought by calling 903-510-2975 or at www.tylersbdc.com.