Summit sets local small business owners on path to success

By 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.”