Representatives from Gov. Greg Abbott’s Office of Small Business Assistance came to Kilgore College this week, hosting a business networking and business information series event to offer support and advice for East Texas small businesses.
“The governor’s office is probably not the first resource that small business owners, or potential business owners, think of when they think of starting their business. But we are looking to change that, because we have a lot to offer out of our office, ”said Jarvis Brewer, a Small Business Advocate with the governor’s office.
Business owners and potential new business owners gathered on Thursday morning at the Kilgore College Devall Student Center, where they enjoyed breakfast, networked and listened to experienced business owners and experts with advice and related experiences.
“Things have been a bit hard for us recently,” said Heather Longton, who attended the event with her husband Trent on Thursday.
The couple is owners of a local welding supply business, a business started by Heather’s father, which they have been working with him at for a number of years. Heather said that her father died last October, with her and her husband taking over the business entirely at that time.
“This is something that can really help,” she said.
During Thursday’s events, attendees participated in four separate sessions, with different speakers and experts for each session and networking breaks between each one.
Brewer lead each session, with the first focused on business planning and the basic building blocks of getting a business off the ground.
Speakers Virgil Conner, with UT Tyler-Longview Small Business Development Center; Bobbie Hurley O’Dell, CEO and owner of Arpco Valves & Controls; and Brandy Flanagan addressed community members with their best advice on starting a business and keeping it going.
Community members also learned about business development, marketing and communication for customer retention during the event with speakers Bryan Roller, a small business specialist; Manny Almanza, Kilgore College’s Director of Marketing; and Stephen Eggleston with East Texas Marketing addressing the topic.
Thursday’s event also had a key note speaker, Chet Garner, from The Daytripper, a TV show which highlights opportunities to explore the best of Texas with unique day trip plans. The show has 13 seasons, with different cities large and small all across Texas highlighted in each episode.
During the event, community members in attendance also heard from Gov. Abbott via a video message, where he welcomed them to the event and expressed the importance of supporting local small businesses throughout the state.
“Thank you so much for being here, and helping to support your community,” Abbott said.
A number of organizations and other resources were set up at vendor tables throughout the event as well, offering information to business owners attending the event.
Organizations included the Texas Department of Insurance, Texas Workforce Association, The Texas Veterans Commission, OSHCON (Occupational Safety and Health Consolation Program) and more.
“We have so much information that we can offer to small businesses, we do free safety inspections and we have tons of free online safety videos in English and Spanish and event templates for safety plans,” Bard Fox with the OSHCON program stated.
Other dates for the 2022 Governor’s Small Business Series include:
- Waco – July 21
- Lubbock – August 25
- Laredo – September 22
- South Padre Island – October 6
- Kerrville – October 27
- Corsicana – November 10
- Bryan-College Station – December 8