Women who want to start businesses or who want to see their businesses grow learned how the Small Business Association can help at a women's symposium April 18 at the Holiday Inn in LaPlace.
The symposium, sponsored by the Professional Women of the River Region, drew more than 50 business and professional women from St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes. The event, called "Simply for Women," is held each year to promote the interests of professional women.
"Our goal is to help women improve themselves in the workforce, by offering them opportunities to learn about issues that affect them, further their education and participate in programs to develop professionalism," said Ann Holmes, PWRR vice president and symposium chairwoman.
The women in business session was one of several workshops that focused on topics of interest to women professionals. Company downsizing, current legislation in Baton Rouge, crime prevention, diversity in the workplace, continuing education and dressing for success also were discussed.
In the women in business workshop, Loretta Poree, an economic development specialist and Louisiana Women's Business Ownership representative for the SBA, explained how the SBA can help women who want to start or expand businesses.
Through the SBA, women can get assistance with business planning, loans, management, marketing and other aspects of operating a business.
Women entrepreneurs can face particular problems, Poree said. Often, women are unaware of the procedures for negotiating contracts, planning marketing strategies or getting financial support.
"Men have always had mentors who work with them through the loan process and other business matters," Poree said. "Women network, but not like men do about business planning and financing."
Other speakers were: Sibal Holt, assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO and past president of the Baton Rouge Mayor-President's Commission on the Needs of Women; Gail Kelley, president of St. Charles Consulting; Darlene Hudson of Citizens Against Crime; Theodore Quant, director of the Twomey Center for Peace through Justice at Loyola University; Glenn Schiro, associate director of continuing eduaton/coordinator of career service for the University of New Orleans; and Wanda Taylor, director of Beauti Control.