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Huntington, WV groups collaborate to help small businesses succeed

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The City of Huntington and several organizations are collaborating on a new, long-term initiative designed to help small business succeed.

The project, "Huntington: Be Small. Live Large," is intended to support existing businesses, promote local business and inspire entrepreneurs.

“My administration’s focus from day one has been to seek job growth in this community,” said Mayor Steve Williams, pointing out the initiative "is a result of that ongoing effort. Helping our existing small businesses and creating opportunities for new startup companies and aspiring entrepreneurs are the core of any success we will have in moving Huntington forward.”

The initiative is a partnership between the city and the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce; Unlimited Future, Inc.; Small Business Development Center; Create Huntington; Downtown Huntington Partners; and the Huntington Area Development Council. Representatives of these organizations began meeting in January to explore how they can collaborate to better serve small businesses.

To kick off the initiative, several events geared toward assisting small businesses have been scheduled throughout the month of May, including four "Create Huntington Chat ‘n Chews" focused on small business development, workshops hosted by Unlimited Future, Inc. and the Small Business Development Center, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours Trade Show.

“There are a number of resources available to small business owners in this community that can help create an entrepreneurial spirit here,” said Cathy Burns, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber advocates on behalf of businesses, provides vital, business-to-business networking to raise your profile and provides programming and events on current issues and topics.”

The Chat 'n Chew schedule for May is:

May 1: : How can the community help small business owners and entrepreneurs? Small business owners and people who are thinking about opening a business will be invited to discuss the challenges they face and brainstorm with residents, economic development professionals, government officials, and other professionals about how to make Huntington an ideal place to open and operate a small business.

May 8: the focus will turn to area residents and business people, asking the question, “What type of businesses would you like to see in Huntington? This session will serve as an ideal opportunity for officials, building owners, developers, and budding entrepreneurs to hear first-hand the types of retail, service, professional, and manufacturing businesses that residents and business owners would like to see in our area. Similar conversations in the past served as the genesis for the revitalization of Heritage Station.

May 15: brainstorming ideas for new types of locations in a session titled, "Pop-ups to Flex Space: New ways to take your idea to market." In this session groups will brainstorm ideas to enable small business owners to test the market and begin operations at lower risk and less cost.

May 22: A “Meet a Mentor” session where small business owners and entrepreneurs can meet lawyers, accountants, bankers, consultants, and experienced business owners in an intimate, casual setting.

All Chat ‘n Chews will take place from 5:30–7 p.m. in the lobby of the Frederick Building, at 940 Fourth Ave. in downtown Huntington.

To view the small business events calendar, visit www.cityofhuntington.com, and check for event updates and reminders on the city’s Facebook page and on Twitter @huntingtoncity.