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VOL. 128 | NO. 170 | Friday, August 30, 2013

Conference Promotes Women Business Ownership

LESLEY YOUNG | Special to The Daily News

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Marketing firm owner Amy Howell could write a book on her experience as a female business owner. As a matter of fact, she has.

“It’s a subject near and dear to my heart, and a message I continue to carry,” said Howell, who published “Women in High Gear” this March.

It’s not much of a stretch that Howell, who has owned Howell Marketing Strategies LLC for 17 years, will host a roundtable discussion at this year’s Tennessee Women’s Business Conference, presented by Women’s Business Enterprise Council South on Sept. 12 at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.

“It’s a great opportunity to spread the word about the Women’s Business Council and let everyone know that there are good things happening for women in business and hopefully grow that,” Howell said.

In its fourth year, the conference exists to create awareness concerning the importance of national certification for women business owners, to provide networking opportunities and to enhance women business owners’ skills with various presentations.


“We try to make sure we put together events that corporations will attend so that women can further make relationships with these corporations,” said event chairwoman Mary Singer, owner of CRG2 Sustainable Solutions and a WBECSouth volunteer.

WBECSouth is one of 14 regional partners with the national organization Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a nonprofit that is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled and operated by women in the United States and which advocates women-owned businesses as suppliers to U.S. corporations.

“To truly scale your business, you need the ability to work with larger corporations,” Singer said. “The standard around WBENC certification is kept at the highest level of integrity allows women to work all over the U.S. That means being called to the table for contracts that you would otherwise never have the opportunity to get. That’s a very big deal.”

The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will include a keynote luncheon led by Banneker Industries CEO Cheryl Snead, and discussions on topics including financial well-being, effective pricing, marketing, benefits, social media and sustainability, among others.

“Mary Singer has long been a personal hero and friend,” said Pam Mattingly, director of client relations for Pickering Firm. “Her passion for helping others towards success is truly awesome, and she is a primary reason I am involved in this conference.”

Mattingly has experienced firsthand the importance of a gender-friendly culture in the business place.

“Pickering thinks outside the gender and has encouraged my growth within the firm – and not just as a woman, but also as a non-technical professional,” Mattingly said. “Pickering’s board, principal owner program and key team members include women, and I have been fortunate to work with a company that taps into our talent and nurtures personal growth.”

Some of the industries scheduled to attend the conference include banking, government, real estate, communications, transportation, engineering and manufacturing – companies that are “looking to do business with women.”

“The opportunity to network is just as valuable if not more than any other,” said Megan Murdoch, the client development manager of CBIZ MHM LLC. “There will be great educational topics that are going to help women connect the dots on issues they are having in their businesses, and it will attract businesses looking to do business with women.”

Murdoch, who works in a business with a tenured women’s program, stresses the importance of a “from the top” gender-friendly culture.

“You have to create a culture that supports that vision from the top,” Murdoch said. “If a woman is a junior in college, and she sees no female partners in a firm she’s interested in in her industry, she’s going to shy away from that. We can put the network out there to provide the tools she needs to get there.”

Howell said the conference’s timing is perfect.

“I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal stating that women were optioned out of business. That is not what we need,” Howell said. “We need women in the work force, and we need women in a position to hire other women and to help women by recognizing quality and rewarding good work.”

To find out more about or to register for the conference, visit wbecsouth.org/gwgt2013. For more information about WBENC, visit wbenc.org and for information about WBECSouth, go to wbecsouth.org.

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