Video: Windstream CEO to Speak at Commerce Arkansas Business Expo Today

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Small-business owners, manufacturers, business leaders, technology-based entrepreneurs and innovators and others can benefit from the free expertise offered by seasoned consultants and experts at the second-annual Commerce Arkansas business expo today.


Sponsored by Arkansas Business and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, Commerce Arkansas will include four pavilions dedicated to the following themes: Small Business Strategies, Business Trends and The Economy, Technology and Innovation, Manufacturing, and Sales & Marketing.

Tickets to the event, which runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., cost $20 at the door. Commerce Arkansas takes place at the Statehouse Convention Center Governor's Halls in downtown Little Rock.

Speakers include Jeff Gardner, CEO of Windstream Corp. of Little Rock, who will address a lucheon audience that will also unveil winners of the Arkansas Business CFO of the Year Awards

Other speakers include Jon Harrison, general manager of Caterpillar Inc.'s North Little Rock plant, University of Arkansas economist Kathy Deck, Linda Nelson of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Greg Henderson with Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions.

Below is a schedule of seminars taking place at pavilions throughout the expo.

Small Business Strategies Pavilion

9:30-10:15 a.m.

Web Site Optimization

Kevin White, Consultant, ASBTDC

Making the most of an existing Web site, or developing a new one, may be an effective way to deliver your goods and/or services at lower costs. However, just having an attractive Web site does no good if it doesn't rank well with search engines. Find out some things you can do to make sure your customers and prospects can find your website and how you can turn it into a real working asset.

10:30-11:15 a.m.

Growing Your Business in Tough Times

Tim Lee, Consultant, ASBTDC

While small businesses are having a harder time controlling things like getting financing, declining sales, increased costs and changes in consumer spending habits, there are still things they can control. Attend this seminar to learn about options you might not have considered, things you can cut and, just as important, what not to cut.

1:30-2:15 p.m.

How to Talk to Your Lender To Get to ‘Yes' Faster

Panel Discussion

We all hear and read about the tightening of credit by banks and other lenders. While the volume and dollars of loans are down, the requests for them are not. Learn how to give your lender the clear-cut proposal they need to say "yes." This session will be a panel discussion of lenders as well as a small business owner. You can direct this workshop with your questions.

2:30-3:15 p.m.

New Financing Options Designed for Troubled Businesses

Linda Nelson, CPA, U.S. Small Business Administration

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides some real cost savings and flexibilities when it comes to financing options for your business. Traditional loans, even through SBA's guaranteed loan programs, may not be enough for your business. Fee waivers can save your business more than $50,000, and there are greater incentives for lenders who want to help you but face increased scrutiny from their regulators. There is even an interest-free program designed to help you meet your debt obligations. Plus, there are opportunities to get more stimulus money through contract and sub-contract opportunities. Find out about these services and programs that can help you help yourself.

Business Trends and the Economy Pavilion

9:30-10:15 a.m.

Commercial Real Estate: Fundamentals in this Business Cycle, U.S. and Arkansas

Henry Kelley, Jr. SIOR, CPM, CEO, Flake and Kelley Commercial

A discussion on fundamentals that affect values, financing, vacancy rates, loan restructuring and recovery. A comparison to previous business cycles, as well as what drives recovery in our industry.

1:30-2:15 p.m.

Community Development Opportunities from the Federal Stimulus Packages

Amy B. Simpkins, Community Development Specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Little Rock Branch

Defining community development, reviewing available resources and partnership opportunities, and discussing why community development is a critical component of any business development strategy. This session is designed for business owners and entrepreneurs, community and economic development professionals, and anyone interested in community development.

2:30-3:15 p.m.

The Arkansas Economy in 2009:  Staying the Course in Choppy Economic Waters

Katherine A. Deck, Director, Center for Business and Economic Research, Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas

Kathy Deck will discuss the recent performance of the Arkansas economy, identify challenges and opportunities for business and community leaders, and provide some guidance on what the economy can expect in the coming months.  Special attention will be provided to rural/metropolitan area issues and to key state industries.

Technology and Innovation Pavilion

10:30-11:15 a.m.

Building Deals for Arkansas and Beyond: The UAMS BioVentures Interface

Michael G. Douglas, PhD, Director, UAMS BioVentures, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Current best practices and novel new approaches are coordinated through the UAMS BioVentures Life Science Incubator to generate patents, engage the business community and entrepreneurs, commercialize technology and build the ground work for technology based jobs. Data will also include the economic impact of technology-based companies on the region and Arkansas.

1:30-2:15 p.m.

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should: 5 Questions to Answer to Keep Your Product Healthy

John Riggins, President, The Riggins Group, Inc.

Technology-related companies are often tempted to get so wrapped up in the technology that they lose sight of their primary goal: satisfying the customer.  This session will explore how to stay focused on solving the customer's problem. Participants will leave the session with tactics they can use to help their new or existing products stay on track to profitability.

2:30-3:15 p.m.

Developing a Values-based Workplace...the key to Caterpillar's success in Arkansas
Jon Harrison, General Manager, North American Motor Grader Operations, Caterpillar Inc.

As Caterpillar begins operations in 2010 in their new North Little Rock location, Jon Harrison, the General Manager of the new facility, will discuss why it is critical to develop a true values-based workplace - as opposed to just hanging inspirational posters on the walls! - the keys to doing so, and why this is the instrumental factor in the North Little Rock facility becoming a true benchmark facility. Jon will show that developing a values-based workplace is a challenging journey but one that will deliver great rewards for you personally as a leader, for your customers, and one that your competitors will wish you hadn't undertaken.

Manufacturing Pavilion

9:30-10:15 a.m.

Pathways to Growth: How to Re-grow Your Business

Kirk Manor, Growth Strategy Expert, Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions

Growing your business is tough, and the first step is always the hardest. This session will focus on finding the path for growth using simple benchmarking tools to evaluate your company and find your pathway to growth.

10:30-11:15 a.m.

Reality of Change

Jim Lilly, Strategic Business Expert, Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions

Today everyone is talking about change, but what does change mean from a business standpoint? This session will look at the realities of change to help your business decide both how to change and if you are ready for it.

1:30-2:15 p.m.

Manufacturing Support

Panel Discussion

Manufacturers in Arkansas have world class support to help them succeed. Sometimes identifying this support is not easy. This session will introduce manufacturing support such as grants, tax credits and more.

2:30-3:15 p.m.

Manufacturing in the 21st Century

Greg Henderson, Marketing and Communications Expert, Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions

Manufacturing in the 21st century is leaner, greener and more competitive than what we have experienced in the past. This session will look at where manufacturing is going and how to get your business ready.

Sales & Marketing Pavilion

9:30-10:15 a.m.

Sales & Marketing Traps Faced by Small Business

Ken Haycock, Owner, Kendal Group

Most people start a small business because they have a product or service to sell. The popular belief that a product/service will sell itself is not true. The small-business owner then is forced to start marketing -- in addition to building the business -- with very little experience. These are the traps small-business owners can fall into if they try to have one person do both sales and marketing.

10:30-11:15 a.m.

Merging Old-school Strategies, Using New-school Tactics

Paul Strack, President, Custom Printing XM

Newspapers are folding (pun intended), print advertising is in sharp decline, pundits are announcing the Death of Print. But is print dead? Should this "dinosaur" be eliminated from your marketing strategy? What about social media? This session will explore how a truly targeted and integrated cross-media strategy can not only increase the effectiveness of your campaigns but increase the effectiveness of your social-media applications as well.

1:30-2:15 p.m.

Using Targeted Marketing to Dramatically Increase Your ROI

Ronald Sarne, Business Developing Consultant, Kodak

Using the latest in one-to-one marketing techniques, Sarne will discuss how you can increase sales by communicating with your clients based on their individual requirements. Additionally, he will share ways you can increase direct-marketing response rates while lowering your mailing costs.

2:30-3:15 p.m.

Using Social Media for Business, Non-profit & Search-engine Marketing

Panel Discussion: Ed Nicholson, Tyson Foods Inc.; Natalie Ghidotti, Ghidotti Communications; Megan Knight, FLEX360; Lance Turner, Arkansas Business, moderator

An overview of how businesses and non-profits can use social media -- including Twitter and Facebook -- in aid of e-commerce, marketing and charitable campaigns. Learn what tools are available and how to staff social-media efforts, set expectations and measure success.