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02 October 2007

HACC’s Women on the Move offers solutions to entrepreneurial challenges

Move over Donald Trump and Bill Gates: Innovative women ranging from stay-at-home moms to chief executive officers are paving their own roads to entrepreneurial success.

In Central Pennsylvania, help navigating the commercial seas for women business owners and those who want to become captains of their own ship is but one conference away.

The fourth annual “Women on the Move” is “for anyone interested in taking the entrepreneurial journey,” said Fran Verotsky, director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.

“If you need marketing tips, website ideas, financial advice, a list of resources or just plain-old encouragement, plan to attend,” said Verotsky, who is in the business of helping turn her clients’ dreams of business ownership into a profitable reality through Fulton Bank Small Business Center at HACC. “It doesn’t matter what level you are at – start-up or experienced.”

Dozens of women from across central Pennsylvania will join Karen Deklinski of Wormleysburg and her counterparts at the daylong “Women on the Move: The Entrepreneurial Edge” conference Oct. 19 at the Lebanon Campus, 735 Cumberland St., Lebanon.

Deklinski, owner of Perfectly Pennsylvania specialty gift shop at Harrisburg International Airport, credits the first Women on the Move conference for giving her practical advice on how to get started.

“I spent 25 years in state government,” said Deklinski, adding although she had advanced degrees in public administration and public policy, she “didn’t have a clue how to start a business for myself.”

She admits to feeling “like the most naïve woman in the room” at the time but the atmosphere of support was encouraging. “I didn’t feel embarrassed to ask questions.”

And, Deklinski added, “It’s a good thing when you don’t know what you’re doing because that makes you ask the right people the right questions.

“You should never stop asking questions (because) you can’t achieve real success unless you receive some help along the way.”

Deklinski, a mother of two children, opened her successful business three years ago after that empowering experience at the Women on the Move conference. She said she left feeling confident, empowered, educated and motivated – not to mention she made a plethora of new friends during networking opportunities.

Although her business has grown, Deklinski makes time for Women on the Move each year. “Just because you have achieved success doesn’t mean you can stop growing and learning. I keep on going back every year to reinforce all the things that I do right.”

Faith Elliott used the information she gleaned from last year’s conference to leave her life-long career as an investigative agent for the state Attorney General’s Office and take the plunge into business ownership. In February, she became the owner of The Little Coffee House in Camp Hill.

Although she was comfortable with her decision to change careers, Elliott needed an extra boost of confidence that she found through the conference.

“This is straight up business women, talking straight up business,” Elliott said. “The vast array of speakers gave the nuts and bolts and presented them in a realistic manner. They were very honest about their struggles. This was the real deal, not a lot of fluff.

“This instilled in me, a sense of confidence, and I thought, yes, I can do this,” said Elliott who also utilized HACC’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies services after attending the conference. Prior to opening her coffeehouse, Elliott received personalized one-on-one business consulting from a HACC business consultant who gave her professional advice that ranged from fiscal pointers to tips about how to write a business plan.

“I remember the person I worked with took the time to drive by here, check the place out and wrote me a letter offering some suggestions. I just thought that was pretty classy, she didn’t have to do that,” Elliott recalled.

Speakers for this year’s Women on the Move include local innovators Barb Kauffman, advertising and public relations specialist and president of Kauffman Creative Services Inc. in Palmyra; Laura Clampitt Douglas, CEO of MAX International Converters Inc. in Lancaster, and Diana Hartman, CEO of COMP Assist in Lebanon. In addition, entrepreneurial panels will cover a variety of topics and business consultants from HACC and Fulton Bank will be on hand with additional information.

Deklinski and Elliott say the networking aspects of the conference are invaluable. And with this year’s new segment titled, “Speed Networking,” the business cards will be flying faster than normal. The day will be culminated by a drawing with a special gift from Mo’s on Main, a jewelry store in Annville, followed by an organized tour of the new Lebanon Farmer’s Market.

“To interact with that diverse mix of professional women— whether it is women who are already in business or women aspiring to start their own business, is very powerful and gives you a lot of strength. Seeing that much energy and competency in one room, really is a powerful thing,” Elliott said.

Fast facts:
“Women on the Move: The Entrepreneurial Edge” will be held from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, in the multi-purpose of HACC’s Lebanon Campus, 735 Cumberland St., Lebanon.

The conference is offered by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Business Center. Co-sponsors are Fulton Bank Small Business Center of HACC, the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation, Sovereign Bank and Business Woman magazine. Representatives from the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and vendors also will be at the event that includes door prizes.

Registration of $35 includes a continental breakfast and lunch, a dynamic program and free regional resource guide. Free parking is available at the city lot at Willow and North Seventh streets.

After the event, networking and pertinent information will continue. Attendees can expect follow-ups from HACC and will receive the quarterly newsletter, The Entrepreneurial Edge.

Deadline to register is Oct. 11. To register, call 780-2616 or 780-2414. For more information, call Judy White at HACC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at 221-1311 or send an e-mail using the email contact below.

Fast Facts about HACC’s Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies:
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, formed the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies to assist individuals in turning their dreams of business ownership into a profitable reality.

One-on-one business counseling and educational workshops, events and programs help guide entrepreneurs from the initial idea stage through the first three years of operations.

Some people know exactly what kind of business they want, while others may not. This is one of the few entrepreneurial assistance programs that works with clients before they decide on a business.

HACC's Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is headquartered at Three Penn Center, Suite 237, at 349 E. Wiconisco St., Harrisburg. Resources include:

  • Fulton Bank Small Business Center
  • Women’s Marketplace
  • First Monday
  • Rural development outreach and home-based business programs
  • Veterans program
  • Women on the Move
  • Entrepreneur in residence
  • Diploma, certificate and associate degree programs
  • Artisan Marketplace
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