Record turnout for summit

WARREN – Current and prospective business owners from around the Mahoning Valley gathered in downtown Warren on Monday for the third annual Minority Business Summit.

According to event organizer Kisha Jackson, the attendance for this year at the Raymond John Wean Foundation at least doubled from the 2013 mark.

“I think we had 12 to 15 last year, and this year we’ve got 30 to 35, so it’s definitely going up,” Jackson said. “It’s a good sign and that’s part of Mayor (Doug) Franklin’s vision. We want downtown to grow.”

Franklin was on hand for the summit, whose principle topic this year was marketing.

“When we held our summit last year, a lot of people asked for us to focus on marketing,” Jackson said. “So, that’s what we did this year.”

Sharing marketing tips and answering marketing-related questions, guest speaker Jennifer Campbell, marketing strategist for Rubenstein and Associates, addressed the audience for a little more than 30 minutes.

One of the topics she focused on was successful branding techniques for small businesses.

“Once you have a strong professional logo, that’s a great first step,” Campbell said. “If you want people to associate you with quality work, the marketing material you present should be of high quality.”

Other important facets of business marketing includes utilizing data, social media and video, along with promoting in innovative, new ways.

Those in attendance included Kiisha and William Sanders, who run the Team Sanders Inc., a non-profit organization for students and young adults in Warren.

“I did enjoy a lot of the marketing tips that were talked about,” Kiisha Sanders said. “I have some experience with this, but it is nice to hear from (Campbell) that I’m already on the right path.”

“I grew up in Warren and my husband teaches at Jefferson Elementary. It’s nice to come back and do something for the community,” she said.

For Campbell, the large showing indicates Warren may be on the right path.

“The attendance tonight speaks volumes about the young entrepreneurial spirit alive in the Valley,” Campbell said.

Franklin echoed that sentiment following the presentation.

“We’ve been doing this summit ever since I’ve been mayor, so this is the third and it’s the biggest crowd we’ve had,” Franklin said. “Looking at the sign-in sheet, this is a very diverse crowd, which is a great thing.

“I want to commend Jennifer Campbell for her presentation. It was very comprehensive and very thorough. Jennifer does a lot of things that benefit this city,” he said.

Also on hand for the summit were Thomas Conley, president of the Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League and William Cann from the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce.