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Chester County Press

Kennett Township launches small business seminar series

07/11/2017 01:16PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

Business, at least in the traditional depiction of a brick and mortar, shingle on a post and nine-to-five regularity, remains fully alive and well, but since the dawn of the new media age, there's a new kid in town, and he or she is fighting for the lion's share of the spotlight.
They are in home offices. They are in cafes, laptops open and coffee in hand. They are on line and on the Cloud, with shared computer processing resources and data. They are connected by networks, servers, storage, applications and servers.
And yet, when it comes to talking with other small business owners like them, they are largely alone.
Tying together Kennett Township's broad-based economic plan with the need to open business-to-business doors in the area, the township's economic development office have created a four-part seminar series tailored for local small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Office Hours – Kennett, presented by the township and co-sponsored by the law form of MacElree Harvey and Fulton Bank, is a series of intimate talks by local business professionals tailored for the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Each seminar is held from 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at The Creamery in Kennett Square.
"Part of the mission that the township created was to put focus on economic development for the township, and the broader region of the borough and nearby townships, as well," said Patricia Muller, the township's economic development director. "Given that economic development was part of the charge, we wondered what we can do in the short term that would be fun, and not so global but would provide for cross-pollination between business to business and be more personal and intimate. It would encompass the 1099 employees that have a home office and don’t have the large business connections.”
Township Supervisor Whitney Hoffman, the owner of Hoffman Omnimedia and a social media expert, kicked off the Office Hours-Kennett series on June 15 with "Social Media: The New Advertising," before an audience of 30 small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The series continues on July 20 with "It's in the Bank: Utilizing Banking Relationships for Growth," introduced by representatives from Fulton Bank and the Fulton International Group. The seminar will discuss international banking, cash management and merchant services.
On Aug. 17, the series continues with "Legal Briefs: Documentation and Protection," with speaker Mary Kay Gaver of MacElree and Harvey, and will introduce attendees to what they need to know about what they need to do in order to protect themselves as business owners. The series will conclude on Sept. 20 with "Quick Question! Speed Dating for Business," which will feature break-out sessions with the series' previous guest speakers.
Hoffman said there is a growing trend for those who share an entrepreneurial spirit to come together and share their knowledge.
"More and more, we're finding that a common business question is, 'How do I as a small businessperson find if there is an appetite for co-working or business incubation, or a business application?'" she said. "In creating this series, we thought, 'What can we do as a means of getting people together? How can we talk to people, help build their skills, and find out who is interested in what?' You have to have a way for them to do that, and that's what this program attempts to do."
Hoffman said that these seminars afford the opportunity to hear, interpret and prepare for the common questions of small business ownership before they actually have to answer them.
"Office Hours tells them, 'Here's what you have to be careful of,'" she said. "It's creating those threshold barriers for access to information. Business is getting to the point where that if you really need it, you probably needed it six months ago. Here, if you can get those answered ahead of time, you're much better off."
The seminar series generously dovetails with the findings of the Kennett Region Development Study, completed last September by the township and the Kennett Borough that spell out the long-range plans for interpreting market trends, developing regional planning strategies and identifying potential areas of investment.
The study states that Kennett Square’s growing small business sector should continue to drive private investment. "Ensuring that existing and would-be entrepreneurs have the needed resources (e.g., data and information concerning available real estate, small business lending programs, zoning regulations, and peer-to-peer groups, etc.) will help ensure the forward direction of Kennett Square’s small business resurgence," the report said.
Because Kennett area's estimated median age hovers in the low 40s -- an age group that has consistently led the way in the creation of new business enterprises -- the report identifies the Kennett area as fertile ground for entrepreneurship and new business investment.
"There is a whole generation of people over 45 who are being laid off, and it's difficult finding a new job," Muller said. "How do they make sense of what they have in terms of their partnerships? How can they make efficiencies? We've tried to find the low-hanging fruit, in terms of making an immediate impact right away, and to plan two steps down the road, in terms of where these entrepreneurs can go next."
Fulton Bank and MacElree & Harvey are sponsoring this summer’s series. Kennett Township hopes to offer a winter series in early 2018 with new “must know” topics presented by the experts in the field. To learn more about Office Hours-Kennett and to register for an upcoming seminar, visit The Creamery is located at 401 Birch Street, Kennett Square. Registration is free.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected]