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Mace & Crown | April 26, 2017

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Forum for Women Entrepreneurs Held at ODU

Forum for Women Entrepreneurs Held at ODU
Erin Sudek
Staff Writer

A public forum was held at the Old Dominion University Innovation Center on Aug. 26 to confront and discuss the issues and concerns of various female entrepreneurs in Virginia. The forum was conducted by Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

The goal of the meeting was to directly address Virginia businesses, specifically those lead by women, and find ways that the government can help promote the growth of these businesses, on both a local and state level.

More than a dozen female entrepreneurs came out and expressed their ideas and concerns at the forum. Their concerns were centered around areas where their businesses could look to the government of Virginia for aid.

Some of the topics discussed included a well-trained workforce, the availability of shared spaces to build and consult with others, specific problems where start-up companies needed help, and other ideas that would provide new businesses with the capabilities and resources to thrive.

Other problems like the need for capital and the way that certain regulations favor the more established companies rather than newer ones were also brought up, which demonstrates the forum’s focus on the developing business and the obstacles that these female entrepreneurs face.

Throughout the meeting, Lt. Gov. Northam showed concern and motivation to make a difference for these female entrepreneurs. He emphasized his feelings about the responsibility of the government to serve their people, namely the developing businesses of Virginia, and support any woman looking to begin her own enterprise.

These women also highlighted the important role of ODU’s Innovation Center, which provides advice and support to developing businesses in the Hampton Roads area. There, entrepreneurs and those with ambitious ideas are able to come together to work through business problems, which can greatly benefit a developing company.

“Shared spaces are critical for entrepreneurs to stay connected and build a culture of innovation,” said April Sciacchitano, co-founder of Mix+Shine Marketing in Virginia Beach.

After the meeting ended, Lt. Gov. Northam suggested holding further periodic meetings with these female entrepreneurs to discuss the important points that were brought up during the forum.

“We’re here to help,” he said. “At the state level, we get up in the morning, and we want to help make things better for businesses, and for women-owned businesses.”

The future for women business leaders in Virginia is looking bright, thanks to Virginia Lt. Gov. Northam, the current female entrepreneurs and participants and the various resources that now exist to aid developing businesses.