D.C. Small Business Fair helps owners achieve their dreams
A financial well-being coach attending a business fair in the District on Thursday reveled in the opportunity to teach participants how to achieve their dreams of running their own business and creating a business plan.
“My goal is to spark those that have a desire to start their businesses and say ‘yes, you can’ and to emphasize the importance of planning because I do the business plan,” said Cynthia Harrison, a fifth-year exhibitor for Operation Hope at the 21st annual Small Business Fair at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who is the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, hosted the business event Thursday, saying she believes that Washington is one of the top small business cities in the United States.
“This is always a big deal for us because small businesses are so important to the economy of the District of Columbia, and I’m not sure everybody knows that,” Ms. Norton said. “The Small Business Fair tries to respond to the small businesses in the District of Columbia by asking them what it is they most need when it comes to information and expertise.”
The fair offered workshops for participants and business owners to provide feedback from experts in certain business domains. Ms. Norton said this is why the fair has been popular in the past.
“We think that when you consider the rest of the federal government here, which is the chief driver, you have to ask who are they driving. Well among those being driven are small businesses,” she said.
About 175 participants and 40 exhibitors signed up for the event. However, only 30 exhibitors arrived for the first part of the day.
Sheldon Jobe, an executive vice president and business manager of Bizgoprint in Bethesda, said he attended the fair to grow his company’s client base and to understand the D.C. business community.
“One of the things that we are passionate about is helping businesses stand out from the crowd,” said Mr. Jobe, a first-time exhibitor. “I like coming to these events not just to see what other potential clients we can find but what new and innovative businesses are coming out.”
Crystal Hammond, a full-time engineer who opened her small business last year, said it was her first time as an exhibitor and did not know what to expect.
“I wanted to connect with other businesses and show them what a real small business looks like,” said Ms. Hammond, owner of Sip Sew Old Town in Alexandria. “I have already made some really awesome connections. I am actually getting help with business questions that I had, and I wasn’t expecting that either.”
Angel Anderson, owner of The SpiceSuite in the District, received the fair’s Small Business of the Year award. Mrs. Anderson left her job as an assistant school principal to open her interactive spice bar, which has been in operation for two years.