Greg Smith, director of the Eastern Oregon University Small Business Development Center, welcomes business owners to the second annual Women’s Business Symposium last Wednesday. TRISH YERGES / The Observer
The second annual Women’s Business Symposium was held last Wednesday at the Integrated Services Building in La Grande to present and discuss opportunities and resources available to women-owned businesses.
The symposium was presented by the Eastern Oregon University Small Business Development Center and the Small Business Administration. It was attended by 17 business women from Eastern Oregon.
Guest speakers included representatives from Zions Bank, SBA Loan Resource Officer Marilyn Hickman from Boise and SBA Branch Manager Julia Harrison from New Plymouth, Idaho.
Their presentations included information on SBA loans and the desired credentials of a successful borrower.
Other guest speakers included Business Development Specialists Irene Gonzalez and Darla Nordstrom, both from the SBA Boise district office.
Their office serves Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Union and Wallowa counties, and Zions Bank is the number one small business lender within the Boise district.
Also invited to speak were business owners from Russell’s Custom Meats and Deli of John Day and the Mitre’s Touch Gallery of La Grande. Their presentations highlighted the need to be adaptable and innovative, especially in a challenged economy.
Five vendors from La Grande also displayed their respective products. Among them were the Maridell Center, K. Ruth handmade products, the Mitre's Touch Gallery, Antlers Espresso and Faerie Beads.
Greg Smith, director of the EOUSBDC in La Grande, is a business finance specialist, who serves Grant, Union and Wallowa county businesses. His assistant, Donna Jo Talbott, organized the symposium and introduced the program speakers.
In Smith’s opening address, he said that the services his office provides are free of charge and confidential.
Entrepreneurs may receive training in business and finance planning, cash flow management, hiring and training employees, accessing capital and using social media marketing.
“You can come to us and ask, ‘How can you help me?’” said Smith. “Come visit us and find out. We’re here to serve you.”
In Nordstrom’s presentation, she said that 9.5 percent of Union County businesses were women-owned in 2002 and that nearly 30 percent of all Oregon businesses that year were owned by women.
Some of the most common women-owned enterprises include health care or home health care services, professional, scientific and technical works, cleaning services, retail sales, administrative services and real estate businesses.
Nationally, women represent a strong force in consumerism and family financial decision-making. Nordstrom said that women have a direct say or influence more than 91 percent of all new home purchases, 88 percent of retail purchases and 94 percent of all purchases of home furnishings.
In auto purchases women had a direct say 50 percent of the time and in 85 percent of the time, they wielded a strong influence.
Nordstrom said that women who are contemplating a business start up, may receive free online counseling by visiting www.score.org.
For more information about the opportunities and resources for the small business owner or women-owned business, visit www.sba.gov/or or call Greg Smith at 541-962-1532.