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Seminar helps small businesses get info

A seminar to help small business owners get information about the coming economic stimulus package and how to take advantage of that information.

The seminar was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) and the University of West Alabama Small Business Development Center.

The morning portion of the seminar featured speakers like Dr. Samuel N. Addy, the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, attorney David Perry of the law firm of Maynard, Cooper and Gale PC, Bill Johnson of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Lamar Woodham and Don Arkel of the Alabama Department of Transportation, L.D. Ralph of the Small Business Administration and Audrey Vaughn of Alabama Power Company.

Kenneth Walker, the director of the UWA Division of Outreach Services, gave the keynote address to the seminar, which was attended by about 150 people, including Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson, State Rep. A.J. McCampbell (D-Demopolis), State Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), UWA president Dr. Richard Holland and Dr. Ken Tucker, the dean of the UWA College of Business and a member of the Marengo County Commission.

“We had an outstanding turnout,” Tucker said. “I think that’s due, in part, to the outstanding lineup of speakers that we had. These are heavyweights in economic development, community development and community development.”

“I think this seminar has been extremely good for west Alabama,” Walker said. “We are on the very cutting edge of President Obama’s stimulus package. The state is receiving information and resources as to how the funds will impact Alabama. We are learning of that first-hand by having these state agencies come to Demopolis today and to share that type of information with community leaders as well as small business owners.”

“We have only identified by formula $3 billion coming out of the stimulus for Alabama,” Addy said. “We have conservatively estimated that 3 to 5 billion will be coming to the state. Every direct dollar has an indirect impact, so the total impact of this $3 billion to $5 billion will be about $7 billion to almost $12 billion over the two-year period.

“Basically, the opportunities are there for everyone, especially small businesses. Also, the benefits are there. The weatherization and other programs will benefit in our area much more, because that’s where the needs are.”

“When you develop small business, you develop the economy,” said William Campbell Jr., the director of the Alabama Small Business Development Center. “Fifty percent of everybody employed are employed by small business; 97 percent of all businesses in Alabama are small businesses. Small business represents the engine of growth. Any time you can have an event to help people develop the entrepreneurial spirit, it helps the economy.”