Expo links business owners to resources

Terry Gouard, barber and owner of A+ Cutz in Danville, right talks with Diana Alfaro from Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Minority Economic Empowerment during Wednesday's Minority Business Expo at Danville Area Community College.

DANVILLE – Nineteen minority and female business owners had the opportunity Wednesday to access resources that will help them grow their business and showcase what they have to offer.

Carla Boyd, DACC assistant vice president of student services, said she was pleased with the turnout to the first-time event that took place at Danville Area Community College’s Mary Miller Complex.

“We have 19 small business owners who have signed up,” she said. “Whoever is in the room today was meant to be here. We’re making connections.”

State Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, sponsored the event that was coordinated by the college’s Office of Diversity. Marron said he hatched the idea for the business fair after talking with people in the community and realizing there was a need for such an event to help link local small business owners to state resources.

For at least an hour Wednesday morning, business owners visited informational tables manned by various state agencies and interacted with representatives to learn more about resources that could help their business.

“I came here for answers and resources,” Briana Vaughn, owner of Briana’s Creations in Danville, said.

“My dream is to have a commercial kitchen built onto my home,” she said. “I love to bake.

“I’m here to figure out what resources and what grants are available to take my business to the next level,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll get that push.”

Terry Gouard, a barber and owner of A+ Cutz in Danville, talked for a while to Diana Alfaro from Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Minority Economic Empowerment.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people,” he said of the event. “It’s generous of them bringing the resources to us.”

During the event, Marron recognized the business owners in attendance, followed by a business resource presentation by Marron and Alfaro.

The last two hours of the expo were open to DACC students and community members so they could visit tables set up by the business owners who displayed their products and services.

“I didn’t know we had these businesses in Danville,” Boyd said, looking around the gymnasium. “It’s awesome to meet these budding entrepreneurs. We want the entire community to know about them.”

The expo was open to all minority- and female-owned businesses in Marron’s 104th District. Marron said he would like the expo to become an annual event.

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