Delaware entrepreneurs gather in Wilmington

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by Joe

Article originally appeared February 14, 2012 on http://www.delawareonline.com

On February 25, supporters of small business attended a conference to share tools to help emerging ventures succeed and established ones boost profitability.

All who participated in the fifth annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Conference had the chance to network, visit booths of groups and businesses offering a variety of services and get information about the increasingly significant impact of social media.

Jim Provo, of the Small Business Administration’s Wilmington office, said the event opened with networking and breakout sessions for emerging and established businesses. Other sessions included speakers and discussions of business incubators and new public library resources to help business owners and entrepreneurs.

The Coalition of Organizations for Delaware Entrepreneurship (CODE) formed in 2007 to boost awareness of small-business resources and opportunities.

Delaware Financial Literacy Institute/The Money School is its lead organization, JPMorgan Chase its lead sponsor. Contributing sponsors are the Delaware Economic Development Office, Citizens Bank and Kenny Family ShopRites. Partners include SBA, Delaware Small Business Development and Technology Center, Delaware State University Center for Enterprise Development, First State Community Loan Fund, Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise, Rivera Business Development Group and YWCA Delaware Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship. Nonprofit SCORE, a volunteer counseling group, also is part of the event held for National Entrepreneurship Week.

Karen Graham, senior associate director of the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute/The Money School, said the conference has grown annually, to about 250 attendees in 2011.

Each year hits core areas and new topics, such as social media and library sources, Graham said. Exhibitors include lenders, nonprofits, small businesses and services for business.

“We’re also highlighted some of our young entrepreneurs who have gone through our ‘Chasing the Dream’ summer camp, which is an entrepreneurship camp,” she said.

Small-business times are hard, as a new SBA study just cited 600 more closing than opening in 2011. But, Graham said, “We also have seen, with the economy, more people looking to start a business … or come up with an idea.”

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