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Small-business workshop helps entrepreneurs meet lenders

Conference ‘a huge success’

Photo by Jim Massara
Kim Cantey Davis hears about funding her non-profit business from consultant Toni Dixon of Opulentia in Forest Park.

Photo by Jim Massara Kim Cantey Davis hears about funding her non-profit business from consultant Toni Dixon of Opulentia in Forest Park.

More than 100 area entrepreneurs listened to lectures and met with money men Tuesday at a Clayton State workshop devoted to helping small businesses find financing.

“It was a huge success,” said Crystal Black of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsored the free workshop.

The three-hour event combined talks by small-business finance experts with opportunities to meet both traditional and non-traditional lenders. Attendees moved back and forth between the lectures and the lenders, all stationed at tables in the atrium outside the conference room at Clayton State’s continuing education center.

The first-ever workshop was conducted by Clayton State’s Small Business Development Center to help as many people as possible at one time, according to Alisa Kirk, SBDC area director.

That meant help rooted in knowledge and a realistic perspective.

“We will be honest with you,” Kirk told attendees. “If there is no way you would qualify for a loan, we will tell you that. But we will also try to put you in touch with alternative financing choices if you need that, too.”

Attendees gave the workshop high marks.

“It’s more than I expected, very informative,” said Annetti Watkins of Watkins Funeral Home in Jonesboro, who said she was seeking money to expand a building.

Monic Smith, a writer from Morrow who had a communications firm in New Mexico, said she found the conference a bit more sobering.

“From the sounds of the financing,” she said with a laugh, “I might have to go work for someone else for awhile.”

Black said a second workshop is already being planned for next year. Clayton State’s SBDC serves Clayton, Henry, Fayette and Spalding counties.