BLUEFIELD — The name has changed, but the purpose is the same.

Jim Spencer, Bluefield’s director of economic and community development, said the former “Meet the Millennials” program is now Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur, or “E2E.”

“We wanted it to be all-inclusive,” he said, referring to the program that is for anyone wanting to start a business.

“The event was created as a networking opportunity and to pass on lessons learned by existing successful business owners to the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Spencer said. “The setup will remain the same with an added networking event at the end featuring several of our CREATE Opportunity partners. Aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners are welcome to stay and network with our partners who provide multiple services and resources to businesses.”

Spencer said attendance has been good at past events and he expects solid participation at the fall event, set for next week on Oct. 17 from 4 p.m.to 6:30 p.m. at the Bluefield Arts Center theater.

“The event is open to anyone in the region that either wants to start a business or is an existing business owner and would like to network with other business owners,” he said.

Spencer said it’s kind of like speed dating as participants move to table to table, learning from successful entrepreneurs.

“They are not playing on their phones,” he said of youth who have attended. “They are engaged.”

The program has been popular, which has prompted the city to rebrand it and invite all ages.

“Each year the program includes 10 business owners who start out at separate tables with attendees evenly distributed across the 10 tables,” he said. “The business owners speak and network with the attendees at that particular table for 12 minutes. When time is called, the business owners rotate to the next table and the process starts over.”

Spencer said that in a time span of two hours, the attendees get to hear from 10 successful business owners. 

“A prime example of a success story is Nicole Coburn,” he said. “She attended the first Meet the Millennials as an aspiring entrepreneur and the second year as a business owner of the Blue Spoon Café.”

The program was created three years ago by the Spencer’s department to take a more aggressive approach to economic development, he added.

It was implemented during National Entrepreneurship Week.

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com.

 

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