ECONOMIC LEADERS: Ready for the Oklahoma Governor’s Conference on Small Business are, from left, Tulsans Jerry Holder, Lynda Wingo and Larry Mocha. Realizing that small business drives the local economy and represents more than 99 percent of all employers with total economic impact of $2.8 billion, they look forward to bringing the many representatives of the small business sector together at the conference.
KELSY LORIN TAYLOR for GTR Newspapers
The Oklahoma Governor’s Conference on Small Business is set for Oct. 13-14 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The conference is part of an overall effort to better identify the needs and concerns of Oklahoma’s small business owners.
The conference organizers are a grassroots council comprised of Oklahoma small business owners and their enterprises. Three Tulsans who have been active in the support of small business throughout their careers have been instrumental in organizing the conference.
The three are Lynda Wingo, owner of Miss Helen’s Private School, Jerry Holder, current owner of Holder and Associates and former owner of Allegra Print & Imaging and Larry Mocha, president and of APSCO Inc., all of Tulsa. All three have a long history of support of small business through entities such as the Tulsa Metro Chamber Small Business Council. Mocha, who is also the conference chairman, was recently named the Solveras/NFIB Small Business Champion of Oklahoma by the National Federation of Independent Business.
The purpose of the conference is to provide a sustainable platform for small business owners across the state to connect with one another, discuss their needs and concerns with relevant policy and issue stakeholders and collectively work together to provide solutions related to issues of business, workforce and education on both local and state levels. One of the key benefits is the establishment of an “online community presence” for the Ambassadors to network across the state and perhaps start new B2B revenue, says Holder. “This is forming the sustainability piece that we anticipate being used for years to come.”
The Governor’s Conference on Small Business is expected to be Oklahoma’s premier small business event. The luncheon keynote speaker will be Dan Danner, president of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Anthony Mulligan, founder and of Advanced Ceramics Research, will provide the opening keynote. Also included will be education workshops, a pre-conference reception, a program luncheon, award recognition, access to the state’s business resources and leadership, a golf tournament and unprecedented networking opportunities.
Hundreds of small business owners from across Oklahoma helped establish the conference programs. Each workshop has been carefully selected to deliver immediate, practical tools and information that small businesses can apply right away.
Workshop topics include marketing strategies using social media, apps for today’s business, access to financing, permitting solutions, tips for rural entrepreneurs, marketing, safety programs, training and more.
The Tulsa threesome has for years discussed problems facing small business in general, which also impact their own companies. Mocha, who wants to “unleash the power of small business,” is, in addition to the economy, especially concerned about education, and he discusses having statewide forums to address education issues. He says, “A problem we have is that many of the new people coming into the workplace have trouble reading, writing and with basic arithmetic. He says, “We look for the best people we can hire, but it is difficult with the lack of appropriate skills we are seeing.”
Several years ago, the threesome with the help of others from the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce had a meeting in Stroud to develop a strategy help to small businesses across the state. They began talking among themselves about planning small business forums.
The three approached then-Gov. Henry about organizing a conference of small business people to discuss some of these issues. Mocha says Governor Henry was supportive. From the beginning, Mocha says his idea for a conference is to talk about relevant issues to business, not political issues. He says he wants to begin a movement of small business people to celebrate and promote small business.
Wingo says that to effectively address issues relevant to Oklahoma’s small business owners, the planning council set out to identify a minimum of three small business ambassadors on in each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. She says that representatives from over 60 Oklahoma counties will attend the conference, where they can network and discuss issues relevant to small business. In addition, these ambassadors were participants in a brief electronic survey, engaged in planning sessions at the Governor’s mansion in April and been asked to serve on behalf of Governor Fallin in an ongoing capacity as a community/state ambassador on issues that impact small business. Wingo says that these ambassadors have served as the inspiration for the conference planning efforts.
The registration for the conference is $149. To register, call 918-280-2611 or see www.okgovcon.com.
Time: Oct. 13, 10 a.m. golf tournament tee off; 5-7 p.m., Tulsa Chamber Business After Hours trade show. Oct. 14: 7:30-8:30 a.m. registration; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. conference.