Last November, the Aiken Area SBDC hosted the first Annual CPA, Banker and Attorney Business Resources Networking event. This conference was the brainchild of Laura DiSano, a highly-regarded business consultant for the Aiken Area SBDC. DiSano was a recipient of the SC SBDC’s Individual Performance Achievement Award for her work helping emerging entrepreneurs and existing small businesses in Aiken County and its surrounding areas. This distinction shows that when Laura sets her mind to something, it will happen.
So, when Laura wondered what would occur if she brought all the CPAs, bankers and attorneys together in one room to discuss Aiken’s economic development, it wasn’t long before formal invitations were in the mail.
“In my former business life, we held such an event as a way of bringing these professional business resources together to increase referrals, partnerships and enhance the economy,” said DiSano.
To fulfill her vision for a top-notch gathering, Laura recruited assistance from fellow Aiken consultant Brent Hoover, USC Region Director Darrell Jones and administrative assistant Carolyn Strange. Sponsors such as the City of Aiken, the Economic Development Partnership of Aiken, Herlong Doran Financial Group and Security Federal Bank, who share Laura’s passion for a thriving Aiken business community, made generous contributions.
More than 60 people attended the event, including Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon, City of Aiken manager Stuart Bedenbaugh, Aiken County Council Chairman Gary Bunker, USC Aiken Chancellor Sandra J. Jordon and USC Aiken School of Business Dean Mick Fekula.
“Some of the dignitaries spoke briefly at the start and then the evening commenced into a game of ‘speed dating economic style,’” said Aiken Area SBDC consultant Brent Hoover. “Essentially, everyone needed to find and talk with someone they did not know, trade business cards, learn about their specific services and hopefully find a way to mutually benefit future economic development within Aiken.”
DiSano was pleased with the results. “The event was highly successful and I hope it can be a model for the SC SBDC network. It is a way to further educate these valuable business advisors as to the capabilities and services of SBDCs.”
In a message thanking professionals who attended the event, DiSano said “Any activity that promotes the sharing of information, collaboration and/or partnership regarding the services that each of us provides will ultimately boost referrals, lead to new business starts, enhance existing business performance, and increase job creation & retention. All of these aforementioned metrics are critical. That is the primary objective of this economic development networking initiative.”
“Laura took a novel approach to addressing what she recognized was a need of Aiken’s economic development community, and her efforts paid off. Due to extremely positive feedback, the Aiken Area SBDC will certainly make this an annual event,” said SC SBDC State Director Michele Abraham. “In fact, I understand that she has already lined-up two sponsors.”