Representatives from Governor Greg Abbott’s Small Business Support Office came to Kilgore College this week to host a business networking and business information event to offer support and advice to small businesses in East Texas.
“The governor’s office is probably not the first resource that small business owners or potential business owners think of when they start their business. But we are trying to change that because we have something to offer outside our office, “said Jarvis Brewer, a small business representative in the governor’s office.
Business owners and potential new business owners gathered Thursday morning at Kilgore College Devall, where they enjoyed breakfast, networked and listened to experienced business owners and experts with advice and related experiences.
“Things have been a little difficult for us lately,” said Heather Longton, who attended the event with her husband Trent on Thursday.
The couple own a local welding supply business, a business started by Heather’s father, in which they have been working with him for several years. Heather said her father died last October, with her and her husband taking over the business at the time.
“It’s 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 breaks for networking between each.
Brewer leads each session, the first focusing on business planning and the basic building blocks for starting a business.
Lecturers Virgil Connor, with UT Tyler-Longview Small Business Development Center; Bobby Hurley O’Dell, CEO and owner of Arpco Valves & Controls; and Brandi Flanagan turned to community members with their best tips for starting a business and continuing it.
Community members also learned about business development, marketing and customer retention communication during the event with speakers Brian Roller, a small business specialist; Manny Almanza, Marketing Director, Kilgore College; and Stephen Eggleston of East Texas Marketing, who deal with the subject.
Thursday’s event also featured a keynote speaker, Chet Garner, of The Daytripper, a TV show that highlights opportunities to see the best of Texas with unique day trip plans. The show has 13 seasons, with different episodes highlighting cities and towns across Texas.
During the event, community members present also heard from Governor Abbott via video message, where he welcomed them to the event and expressed the importance of supporting local small businesses across the state.
“Thank you very 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 during the event, as well as offering information to business owners attending the event.
Organizations include the Texas Department of Insurance, the Texas Labor Association, the Texas Veterans Commission, OSHCON (Safety and Health Consolation Program), and more.
“We have so much information to offer small businesses, we do free safety inspections, and we have a lot of free online safety videos in English and Spanish and event templates for safety plans,” said Bard Fox of OSHCON.
Other dates for the Governor’s Small Business Series for 2022 include:
- Waco – July 21
- Lubok – August 25
- Laredo – September 22
- South Padre Island – October 6
- Kerville – October 27
- Corsica – November 10
- Brian College Station – December 8