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Expo highlights multicultural business

October 29, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Dorothy Roman said she thought a program linking existing and aspiring entrepreneurs would be a great project for the Mission Outpost Bookstore Inc., which is just completing its first year of existence.

Roman was right on target.

When the doors of the Chris May Memorial Gymnasium opened Saturday morning on the campus of Faith Christian Academy, people were flocking to the first Multicultural Business Expo.

"We have workshops to empower people and teach them the ABCs of starting a business," Roman said.

The theme for the expo was "Connecting ... Possibilities."

Topics included how to start a business, marketing techniques, alternative financing, maximizing technology and how to protect assets.

"Consumers were urged to attend also to see what is out there for them," Roman said.

To that end, there were vendors offering books, specialty teas, custom lampshades, hats, jewelry, nutritional supplements and a variety of services including spas and cleaning services.

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Christina Lundberg, program manager of the Small Business Development Center of Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, also was at a table filled with helpful handouts for prospective business owners. The center was a co-sponsor of Saturday's event.

"I'm doing a workshop on starting a business," Lundberg said.

Manuel Washington, owner of Groves Cleaning Service, had a table showing his services and products.

"I got a flier from the Destiny Baptist Church, so I decided to set up to introduce people to my businesses," Washington said.

Shirley Robinson had a display of her handmade jewelry - a hobby she might turn into a business. She, too, learned of the expo through Destiny Baptist Church.

"It's exciting, and I love it," Robinson said of her burgeoning hobby-turned-business. "I'm just glad to be here to show my wares."

Not all of the tables were occupied by vendors of products.

Kristen Loken, a volunteer with the Berkeley County Democratic Association, had handouts touting candidates in the Nov. 7 election.

"We thought this would be a good place for us to be," Loken said.

During the day, there was a demonstration of yoga to relieve stress and a comedian to lighten the mood, Roman said. Good Looks Barber Shop and Beauty Salon also offered men's haircuts at the expo.

The Mission Outpost Bookstore Inc. is a for-profit arm of Destiny Baptist Church at 115 N. Raleigh St. in Martinsburg.

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