By Misty Cruse
“Start Something.” It piques your curiosity, makes you think outside the box and calls you to action – all with two words – “Start Something.”
This was likely the desire of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) Women’s Business Conference organizers when they selected a title for this year’s national conference in October. So what makes this event so exciting, aside from its take action title? The location: this year’s event is in Louisville.
After two year’s of wooing, largely by Louisville’s Evelyn Strange, immediate past chair of the women business owners group, organizers of the Women’s Business Conference — historically conducted only in major cities — made the decision to give Louisville a try.
“This conference celebrates the entrepreneurial, innovative and adventurous spirit of women business owners, a community more than 10 million strong and accounting for nearly half of all small businesses in America,” Strange said. “What an incredible opportunity to showcase Louisville and Kentucky to women leaders from across our nation.”
This year’s conference is Thursday and Friday at Louisville Marriot Downtown. The event is anticipated to attract at least 800 people, many of which have never visited Louisville.
Conference planners have gone out of their way to ensure these new visitors don’t leave without experiencing the best of Louisville. The conference schedule is packed with opportunities to enjoy the sites and sounds of the city, starting with an opening reception Thursday evening at the Kentucky Derby Museum. Visitors also can take advantage of the Conference Stay-and-Play package, allowing them to enjoy local specialties like the St. James Art Show, also conducted that weekend.
“We’re very excited to finally have this event held in Louisville,” said Lesa Sibert, Louisville NAWBO chapter president and owner of Xstreme Media. “We hope that as people visit Louisville for the first time they will discover what residents already know, it’s a great place to live and work. Hopefully the conference will encourage others to visit this city and even encourage families to consider Louisville as an exciting vacation option.”
About the conference
There are a lot of reasons you won’t want to miss this conference. Whether you’re a woman or man, business owner or part of the support team, there will be two days packed with great opportunities. Breakout sessions during the conference include topics such as: new connections to grow your business, work-life integration and focusing on health and wellness.
There also are entrepreneur-specific discussions such as furthering women entrepreneurs and simplifying your business plan.
“Being true to our mission of advancing women entrepreneurs, the conference event planners are also working with many local women-owned businesses to provide services and products for this event,” Strange said.
One of the most anticipated keynote speakers is Kathy Ireland, model and chief designer and CEO of the $1.9 billion Kathy Ireland Worldwide. During lunch Friday, Ireland will share her story about how she built her business empire, the most important lessons she learned along the way, what things have been critical to her growth and what inspires and motivates her.
Other popular speakers include Terri McCullough, CEO of Tony Burch Foundation; Jim Horan, president and CEO of The One Page Business Plan Company; and Susan Davis, chair of Vital Voices and recipient of the Global Empowerment Award at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards.
“The wealth of business experience, acumen, innovations from the women leaders, and national corporate partners provide such a unique opportunity for networking and mingling – this is always noted as one of the best experiences of attending these conferences,” Strange said.
A variety of local companies also will be featured as exhibitors in the Marketplace Exhibit Hall throughout the event. Corporate sponsors for the 2012 NAWBO Women’s Business Conference include UPS, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Walmart, Yum! Brands Inc., Norton Women’s Care, American Express OPEN, Facebook, Brown-Forman and Bingham Greenebaum Doll.
Tickets for this year’s conference are $350 for members or $395 for non-members. To join NAWBO, register for the conference or view the agenda, visit nawbo.org/content_15600.cfm.
Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the voice of America’s more than 10 million women-owned businesses. The Louisville NAWBO chapter was formed in 1992 and has 150 members.