In honor of National Small Business Week, Wells Fargo convened a panel discussion of local leaders in partnership with the Enterprise Center, Camden Business Association, Camden Community Partnership, Latin American Economic Development Association and Parkside Business & Community in Partnership Inc. at the Salvation Army Camden Kroc Center to discuss the current small business climate in Camden.
The organizations also surprised 10 local small business owners each with grants of $1,000.
Led in discussion by Wells Fargo Small Business Development Manager Alima Hawthorne, panelists from each of the nonprofit partner organizations spoke to a diverse audience of entrepreneurs, elected officials and community partners to discuss how to elevate small businesses in Camden to the next level and help them sustain their operations.
Speakers acknowledged the major advances made on business corridors in recent years, yet also noted the challenges that still persist for business owners, especially regarding administrative needs, such as tax preparation, applying for a loan, managing accounting systems and language barriers.
This is one of the reasons that West Philadelphia-based nonprofit the Enterprise Center is bringing its mobile Biz on Wheels to commercial corridors in Camden.
“As we expand our services into Camden, we are really inspired to be joining this network of nonprofit and community organizations that are dedicated to creating a vibrant, inclusive city, where businesses of any size and background can thrive,” Colleen Vann, the Enterprise Center’s Camden Cares Business Center director, said. “We’re looking forward to working with these partners and commercial corridor managers to understand and address each business’s unique needs.”
The Enterprise Center’s curbside business services specialty vehicle, “Biz on Wheels,” launched earlier this year. It is retrofitted to provide services such as onboard scanning, faxing and printing, and free consultation from business expert volunteers on issues like taxes, loans and marketing.
Along with amplifying the free, mobile business advisory services, the convening organizations also celebrated 10 small businesses owners with $1,000 each in unrestricted grants: Fashion Design Center of South Jersey, Visionary Entertainment, Body Designers Fitness Studio, Blowin’ Smoque Restaurant, Essential Blends Hair Studio, All Phazes Furniture, T.I.’s Next Level Barbershop, Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant & Pizzeria, Complete Maintenance and Sure Biochem Laboratories all received awards.
“At Wells Fargo, we know that small businesses are the cornerstone of our local communities,” Paralee Knight, vice president of social impact and sustainability, Wells Fargo, said. “We also know the last two years have been especially tough for small business owners, and while we can provide expertise and guidance to customers, it takes a network of partners to fully address all the needs they face. That’s why I’m so thrilled to that we were able to convene today with these local leaders and experts, brainstorm on innovative solutions and surprise some incredibly well-deserving entrepreneurs with financial support.”