UCA’s Outreach and Community Engagement department and the Conway Chamber of Commerce will host a series of small business workshops on campus beginning Sept. 24.
The Conway Small Business Institute, a four-part workshop series, is a collaboration project between the City of Conway and UCA.
After analyzing Conway’s business plan for the future, part of a larger plan to progress the city called Conway2025, both groups decided the long-term business goals needed work.
Director of Communications for the Chamber of Commerce Adena White and UCA Outreach and Community Engagement Director of Marketing Kristy Carter worked together to supply local, small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with business knowledge.
“It was a really long process for us to figure out where we are and what to improve on,” White said. “We’re going to talk about how to find the right customer, how to make the right impression, how to write well and how to make good logos.”
The workshops will be held Sept. 24, Oct. 29, Feb. 25 and March 31, each focusing on a separate topic. The first seminar’s topic is small business marketing.
“Small business owners will receive [general]information on marketing, but especially marketing through social media,” Carter said. “One of the biggest benefits to this workshop is getting to hear from [guest speakers]and network with established business owners.”
Carter and UCA’s Outreach and Community Engagement were responsible for handling marketing and registration for the events, as well as coordinating with experts on and off campus.
The first workshop will feature local business experts and owners such as Jamie Gates, a local government employee, economic developer and nonprofit executive; Acxiom Vice President of Sales and Audience Solutions Jeff Standridge; and Kim Herrington, founder and co-owner of Orsanna, a Conway website design and digital marketing agency.
“It’ll be good for students on campus who want to start their own business, or are in the process of starting their own business,” Carter said. “It’s an opportunity to network and get some real-world, out-of-the-book ideas on how to do that.”
So far, registration is not quite what Carter hoped for, but she is confident that there is still plenty of time to boost attendance. There are a few small businesses registered, such as the local shop Shoe Choo Train in the Conway Towne Center, but it’s really social media interest that is keeping coordinators optimistic.
“I’ve seen some feedback and a lot of shares [on Facebook],” White said. “I feel like people are thinking it’s something different, [and]we’ve done a lot of marketing for it.”
The Oct. 29 workshop will focus on veteran-, women- and minority-owned businesses, the Feb. 25 workshop will discuss human resources and the March 31 workshop will cover small business finance.
All workshops will be held in the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center. Each workshop costs $50 and is open to any interested parties. Attendees who register for all four workshops can pay a discounted fee of $175. If interested in registering, visit uca.edu/outreach/csbi. For other questions or for registration problems, contact Reuel Shepherd at (501) 450-3429 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2015 print edition of The Echo.
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