The future of small and family businesses in the region is on the minds of local business owners, judging by the turnout on Jan. 19 for the first event offered by West Liberty University’s Small and Family Business Program. The program is an initiative of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Gary E. West College of Business, and the dinner event served to introduce this new community-outreach effort. Nationally known author and television personality Gene Marks was the featured speaker.
With a fast-talking, no-nonsense Philadelphia style, Marks challenged small business owners to get informed and plan ahead. He told the audience to follow political issues and changes in laws, utilize the efficiency of cloud technology, and choose reliable economic metrics to follow regularly. He also suggested that business owners should “Have dinner with your accountant,” drawing a laugh from the crowd. Significant changes in tax laws are coming, he added, and small business owners need to be prepared.
A social hour and buffet dinner at the Wheeling Artisan Center preceded Marks’ presentation. Marks said he talked to several attendees who said the opportunity for casual discussions with their peers was already providing a benefit.
Center for Entrepreneurship Director Carrie White hopes the new program will serve the needs of the small business community. “It is part of the university’s mission to be a major player in helping this region grow and prosper economically. We can help by offering workshops, seminars, consultation services, and dynamic speakers like Gene Marks.” The small business program is the outgrowth of an overall emphasis on entrepreneurship begun by WLU President Robin C. Capehart.
Les DeFelice, founder and CEO of DeFelice Care in Wheeling and chairman of the program’s advisory board, said, “We are asking our friends and neighbors in the small business community to get involved by joining with us to generate ideas and help develop programs that really make a difference to small business bottom lines.”