08-08-12-ceed.gifRunning a small business is difficult and time consuming, but often rewarding. Many times, the biggest challenges are unnecessary, but unavoidable for those who lack experience and information. This is not death sentence however, and help is available for small business owners, and it’s called the Center of Economic Empowerment and Development (CEED). CEED, which is an organization designed to help support local small business owners, kicks off the Partners in Progress. Laura Solano, the CEED business consultant described the program’s purpose by saying, “It’s not only a networking meeting, it’s a mentoring group … and also we offer information, something of interest for small business owners. It’s an opportunity to network with other business owners and to get your information about what’s going on out there and what resources are available for small business owners.”

In this time of economic hardship, it is undeniable and unavoidable that businesses have suffered all over the country, particularly small businesses. This does not mean however that growth must stop. It is the entrepreneurs who charge ahead with their brilliant ideas and business confidence that revitalize economies. “We want to bring information to our small-business owners. There are programs out there that might not be promoted as much as we wanted to so we try to put together three great speakers and offer the programs that the community is looking for, especially small business owners,” Solano explains.

The Partners in Progress program meets once a month, and for the kick off — Mentoring Roundtable — three speakers that will provide valuable information for small business owners searching for success. “I have a representative from work force development. She will be speaking about the Adult Experience Program. Jess Hunt is the Family Chamber President and CEO, and he’s going to be talking about how to go from a home-based business to brick and mortar, and the regional representative for the Small Business Association is coming to talk on the 504 Loan Program,” says Solano. The 504 Loan Program, has $7.5 billion in financing available from the Small Business Association.

Perhaps the most valuable resource these meetings provide is the networking opportunities. Deals and partnerships can propel businesses into new success and open doors for opportunity, but they cannot be made without relationships. Solano expresses the importance of networking further by saying, “Networking is a very essential part of business. It must be a constant activity, trying to establish that it is an everyday thing just like a marketing strategy, and everyday taking care of your business.”

The meeting will be held at the Marquis Market in downtown Fayetteville. There is a $30 fee for those who attend, but it is reduced to $20 for non-members as an introductory price if they join CEED on that day, but free for members. To register or for more information contact Laura Solano at or call 323-3377. The meeting is on Aug. 16, at 116 Person St. at the Marquis Market.

Photo: Small business owners find support as well as educational and networking opportunities.

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