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October 30, 2012 > Small businesses supported by East Bay effort

Small businesses supported by East Bay effort

Submitted By Guy Ashley

Small business owners may feel isolated with no-one to prevent them from making a critical mistake that could lead to failure or from missing the golden opportunity that could sustain their success.

However, East Bay entrepreneurs and businesses that attend the fourth and final 2012 Small Business Symposium at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Union City, on November 8, 2012 will not be alone; they will have an opportunity to connect with more than 40 resources, ranging from free non-profit and government services to the expertise of business professionals.

The East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA) and its partners launched the East Bay Small Business Initiative in May 2012 with a symposium in Antioch that drew 107 attendees. The goal is to enhance entrepreneurial opportunities within the region by connecting small businesses and resources. That was followed by a another in Berkeley on July 31 with more than 350 attendees, including 30 resource organizations; the registration deadline was brought forward by five days because of high demand. The third was held in Danville on September 18 and, again, the venue was filled to capacity with more than 200 attendees and 24 resources.

Targeting small, local businesses from start-ups to mature companies, the free symposia connect owners of businesses at various stages of maturity (startup, young, growth and mature) with experts in starting, growing and sustaining small businesses and resources, including finance, business planning, marketing, human resources and legal support, via one of four concurrent, 90-minute break-out panels that answer questions from the audience.

The break-outs are followed by a networking session that give participants opportunities to speak directly to the resources/business professionals and other businesses.

"What we know is that more than half of all East Bay small businesses need some kind of advice or specialized service just to survive. We want to help them thrive and grow," said Jim Foley, Wells Fargo Bank's Greater Bay President and leader of the effort. "By bringing them together with resources that are typically needed for each business life-cycle, we will have something to offer all businesses and can assist as many as possible."

The initiative is organized by East Bay EDA, Inner City Advisors (ICA) and Wells Fargo Bank with the support of the Alameda and Contra Costa Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Alameda County Workforce Investment Board and the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SBDCs and ICA, an Oakland-based non-profit that helps businesses secure needed resources, grow and create quality jobs, will support participants with critical technical assistance and follow-up assistance.

"Running a business is a great responsibility and entrepreneurs need to know there is a network of support to help them succeed. This initiative will help connect them to that support," said Jose Corona, CEO of ICA.

"I'm so pleased this effort is providing an opportunity this year for Southern Alameda County businesses to attend and I strongly encourage area business owners and chambers of commerce to participate" said Richard Valle, an Alameda County Supervisor.

Businesses in Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty's District are also invited to participate and both Supervisors will attend the event.

"Building on Our Assets, the report produced by the East Bay EDA in 2011, found that nearly 70 percent of jobs in the East Bay are created by businesses employing less than 100 people," said Haggerty. "Therefore, our small businesses need and deserve everything the County and East Bay's leadership can do to support them."

This event is co-hosted by the cities of Fremont, Hayward, Newark and Union City and by the Fremont, Hayward, Newark and Union City Chambers of Commerce.

To register, learn more about the event and connect with additional resources, visit

Small Business Symposium
Thursday, Nov 8
8 - 11 a.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel
32083 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City

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