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By SHARON GRAVES
The Chamber of Commerce blew out all the stops with its Business Celebration Day on Courthouse Square.
The event, also sponsored by the Carroll County Community Development Corporation, was intended to show off the best Carrollton has to offer.
Surrounding the square were booths set up by 51 of the Chamber’s 130 members, complete with displays, pamphlets, brochures and give-aways.
Additionally, Backyard Bounce and Fun Zone provided activities for kids, including inflatables. The Chamber, with donations from Arkema and the city of Carrollton, provided free hot dogs, chips and drinks, along with business seminars intended to inform entrepreneurs – new or established alike – about finance and best business practices.
Tommy Causey of the Louisville office of the U.S. Small Business Administration advised entrepreneurs where to look for capital for start-up and established businesses. He explained the many guaranteed-loan programs available through SBA.
“If a bank can’t make a loan, the SBA can’t guarantee a loan; but banks are more likely to make loans with an SBA guarantee behind them,” Causey said.
Bill DiGrezio of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) explained how this free service has been used by such success stories as Vermont Teddy Bear, Vera Bradley Designs and Jelly Belly Candy Company.
“We’ll work with your business for free for as long as you like,” DeGrezio said. “You’ll have to fire us, because we won’t quit.”
SCORE is an army of retired executives who have years of experience in more than 600 industries. The members volunteer their time to new start-ups and established businesses to advise and mentor them on the road to success, according to the SCORE web site.
John and Carolyn Glauber, local long-time business owners, were scheduled to speak on owning a successful retail establishment. Carolyn was the lone Glauber on the stage, however; her husband had been injured in an accident with his horse earlier in the day and couldn’t be present.
“Niche marketing is the way to survive in today’s market,” Carolyn Glauber said.
She said many business owners often don’t give themselves enough time to plan out a sales campaign, but advertising, she stressed, is an absolute must to succeed.
Glauber also gave three things employers should look for when hiring: a good employee is nice to customers, is dependable, and must be responsible for some part of the business.
Pleased by turnout
Chamber of Commerce President Nick Marsh, said his vision has been to bring business back to the downtown area. By holding Business Celebration Day on the Courthouse Square, he said the goal was to showcase the area, as well as businesses that attended.
“The Chamber did not charge the members for spaces to set up here today, like many other business showcases do,” Marsh said; rather, he wants the Chamber to be a tool for small business.
“Our goal was to increase awareness of small business in Carroll County. We were thinking we might have 30 businesses set up booths,” Marsh said. “We far exceeded our expectations, and next year we hope to have more retail-type businesses participate. We hope to bring more business into the downtown area, and we actually welcomed the problem of not enough parking. We can always work with problems.”
Chamber member and chairman of the committee to organize the celebration, Heather Yocum, said she was pleased with the number of Chamber members that participated.
“We had very positive feedback, and we are very interested in making it an annual event,” she said. “We wanted to have an event where business people could network and where those who came into the event could see what the area, the chamber, and local businesses have to offer.”