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The 2013 Business Summit and Showcase was held Thursday at the Lake Charles Civic Center. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

The 2013 Business Summit and Showcase was held Thursday at the Lake Charles Civic Center. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Summit sets local small business owners on path to success

Last Modified: Thursday, November 07, 2013 9:58 PM

By Justin B. Phillips / American Press

During Thursday’s 2013 Business Summit and Showcase at the Lake Charles Civic Center, local small-business owners were given a cheat sheet to success. From one on-one-sessions with more than a dozen vendors, to listening to speakers that came from humble business beginnings and found success for themselves, the small-business owners were able to have their most pressing questions answered.

The event began with speeches from influential industry representatives, including Michael Ricks, district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, Tiya Scroggins from Scroggins Consulting, and Keith DeRousseau, a 2013 Louisiana Small Business of the Year award recipient.

Scroggins discussed how certifications can benefit small-business owners. She talked about her own background and why she feels passionate about what those in attendance were trying to get accomplished.

“The reason why I’m so passionate about this is because I represent small businesses,” Scroggins said. She went on to say that proper certifications for businesses cannot be undervalued. “Is it worth your time getting certified? I’ll answer that question for you. Yes, it is.”

DeRousseau closed the speaker portion of the event. He talked about how he was a product of all of the programs the event featured and that staying focused on success is important.

“You have to prove to someone that you can do something better than someone else, and that’s your competition,” DeRousseau said. “If you’re going to step off in it, step off in it and don’t look back.”

Few questions were asked during the question-and-answer session after each speaker. Once the one-on-one sessions with the vendors began, many of the local business owners in attendance found their voice. Lemus Jones, owner of Jones Trucking in Lake Charles, was one of countless business owners browsing the information on the booths around the room. He came to the event with some family members, each looking for something to help Jones’ business.

“I’m looking to take a lot away from this,” Jones said. “All of this lets you know that your business can expand, and that’s what I plan to do.”

Jones said he started his trucking company less than two years ago and that the business summit was the first of that type he had ever attended. Jones’ mother, Mary Carter, was the most talkative of the bunch. She said she wants her son’s business to be able to ride the wave of the upcoming economic expansion she has been hearing about.

“We’ve started off small, but we’re hoping to get in on the ground level,” Carter said. “With the city about to go through this expansion, we’re ready to get to work.”

As Jones and his family continued to look over the information around the room, he said that even though his business is small for now, there is a character about it that can be trusted.

“I’m a small business, so people should know that I’m going to be there,” Jones said. “I’ll be there, and you will get what you need fast and on time”

Eligha Guillory Jr., assistant city administrator, was one of the driving forces behind the event, along with the rest of the Business Summit Committee. He said events like the business summit will be invaluable for small-business owners as the city continues to grow.

“These type of events are very worthwhile not only because of the questions these people ask, but because the types of programs they can learn about,” Guillory said. “A lot of the people here today are thinking about all of the economic expansion, and they want to know what does it take.”

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