Gearing Up for Gwinnett Small Business Week with Cally D’Angelo, Sr. Director at the Gwinnett Chamber

If you are a business owner in Gwinnett County and looking for resources or connections, you don’t want to miss Gwinnett Small Business Week, starting Monday, November 1st. But before we dive into what you can expect throughout the week, we want to learn more about the Chamber and the resources available year-round to business owners like you.  We’re pleased to welcome Cally D’Angelo, Senior Director, Membership Services & Small Business Initiatives for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thank you Cally so much for joining us on the show.

Cally D’Angelo:
Thank you Jim. I’m so excited to be here with y’all today.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great. So talk to us a little bit about the chamber. I know there’s a lot of people that are listening to us have this discussion right now that have said, I want to join the chamber of commerce. I’ve always heard it’s a great thing to join. And there’s many people that are listening to us that are members, right? And we love you for that. That’s great. But if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur, or you’re about to be a small business owner, and you’re not a member of the chamber, shame on you. Because it’s a great resource. I mean, it’s just phenomenal. So talk to us for the people that are out there, give us the 101 on what the Gwinnett Chamber offers before we dive into the small business week.

Cally D’Angelo:
Okay. Absolutely. Thank you so much for asking. So we are a membership-based organization and our mission is to champion business. So we have 2200 member organizations and 90% of those organizations have 50 employees or less.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
There you go. So you don’t have to be some big corporation to be a member of the chamber.

Cally D’Angelo:
No, not at all. And in fact, many of our businesses are considered small businesses.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Cally D’Angelo:
So as such, we have a robust portfolio of programs to help you build connections. And we have a lot of content for professional development and so forth.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s great. That’s great. And I know that for small business owners, it’s such a great place to start and end up. I mean, you don’t want to just go in for a year and get all the connections and meet all the people and your out. I mean, it’s not about that. But it’s really about networking and fellowship and talking with one another. And at the same time, building your business along with these other business owners in Gwinnett County. It’s a great place to do that. So talk to us about what the Small Business Week is all about.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yes. We’re very excited. It’s actually next week. So it’s a week long celebration of small business. We provide a lot of different events that focus on how you can build your business and also networking and celebration. So what does that mean exactly? Because that’s a lot of buzzwords, right? So we’re focusing this year, the first part of the week, on procurement and certifications. So we’re trying to help small business owners get some money in their pockets. So on Monday, November 1st, we will hold a procurement program where you can learn how to do business with Gwinnett County. And many of you know that Gwinnett County is the second largest county in the state. So yeah, a lot of opportunities there.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, they’re giving out a lot of money to companies aren’t they?

Cally D’Angelo:
Yeah. So it’s exciting. So you’ll learn exactly how to do business with Gwinnett County. It’s going to be an online opportunity, that way more people can have access to it. They will literally walk you through the vendor registration process, all the ins and outs. Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Because that can be daunting for somebody that doesn’t know where to start on that, right?

Cally D’Angelo:
It can. It can, and they’re such great partners to us. So we’re so excited to have them participate on that. And then the second day we have two events and they are coined as certification crash courses. So the first, part one of the program, we’ll be talking about three specific certifications. The women in small business, disadvantaged business enterprise and minority business enterprise. So we will actually have the certifying organizations speaking. It’ll be another Zoom event, that way people can garner access to it. And I didn’t mention this Jim, but these programs are absolutely free.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Nice.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yeah, we were able to get a spot through Comcast Business and that’s how we’re able to offer those for free.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s fantastic.

Cally D’Angelo:
So, they’ll talk about the overview of the certifications, how you can get certified and then also some examples of some potential clients. And then yeah, it is, it is. We’re very excited.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And then day three?

Cally D’Angelo:
Yes. Well actually part two.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Part two.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yes. So that same exact day we’ll have someone from the International Office of University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. so in part one, you’ll learn about what the certifications are. And then part two, you’ll learn how to leverage those certifications and make them work for you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And the SBDC is what many people know it as, right?

Cally D’Angelo:
Correct.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Just another great resource for small business owner. I mean, small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yes, absolutely. And you mentioned the SBDC, but we also partner with many of our resource partners and that’s a lot of the value in a chamber membership is we collaborate with the small business support groups, like SBDC, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Score Gwinnett County. So we can be the collaborator and kind of the go-between to get you plugged into the resources you need.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
You guys are a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, right?

Cally D’Angelo:
We really are.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
There’s people listening to this going, I need all of that. You know, so many people will come up and say, I’ve got an idea for a business, or I want to jump in and start this franchise, or what have you, but I don’t know the next step to take. And all of the things that you’re rattling off are all of those resources and those steps that these people need to take. And it’s all right there at the Gwinnett Chamber.

Cally D’Angelo:
Absolutely. We do a lot of referring back and forth to each other. We work very closely together. So I’m happy to make some introductions for folks, whether they’re a member or not. Of course we’d love for you to be a member. It’s about strengthening our small business entrepreneurial pipeline.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, that’s fantastic. So then day three.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yes. Day three, the big awards. So we have the small business awards on day three, it’s going to be an in-person program. And it is held from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM at Gas South Convention Center. So the way it works is we do a call to action for nominations, so people around the region nominate organizations and then they’re scored from a selections committee that is not chamber staff. I don’t want that job, it’s pretty tough. And then we’ve identified a top 10 finalists in every single award category.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Nice. Wow. That’s great.

Cally D’Angelo:
It is.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And is this the first time you’re back in person since 20, what would it be, 2019?

Cally D’Angelo:
No.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Oh, it’s not?

Cally D’Angelo:
We’ve been safely gathering for quite some time.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Oh, that’s great. But I mean that awards ceremony itself.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yeah. Last year was a hybrid event. So it was in-person and online.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Okay, gotcha

Cally D’Angelo:
This year will be strictly in person.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow, that’s great. It’s nice that people are able to get back together again and deal face to face and catch up with old friends and what have you.

Cally D’Angelo:
Oh yes, absolutely. And it’s such an inspiring day. I mean, some of the award categories, like our launch award is for startups that are two years or younger. We have the minority business award. We have the founder award, which is for a more established business. I like to refer to it as the American dream award because isn’t that what small business and entrepreneurialism is about? So very excited about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s awesome. And then anybody can go to that, but the tickets are a little bit less expensive for members, right?

Cally D’Angelo:
Yes. You always get an incentive if you’re a chamber member and you’ll just go to GwinnettChamber.org/Events, find it on the calendar and you can just register. We do ask that you register just because we want to make sure that we have everything set and ready to go. And this time we are still kind of spacing folks out a little bit and we want to make sure that we have everything ready. So we can’t, unfortunately, accept a lot of walk-ins. Just register in advance please.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. And we’ll show all the information here. Also, you can click below this video that’s on our site here and it will take you right to the registration.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yes. Thank you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, absolutely. So that’s day three. What about day four?

Cally D’Angelo:
Day four we have digital dialogue, which is an online networking platform. So it’s an opportunity for you to practice your pitch and kind of share about your business. So that’s very exciting.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
So, and then how do you end the week? This is all very…

Cally D’Angelo:
It’s a very busy week.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yes.

Cally D’Angelo:
It’s all hands on deck for sure. So on Friday we have Gwinnettworking, which is a lead generation event where you literally get to share your elevator pitch in front of a room of folks.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow. That’s good stuff.

Cally D’Angelo:
So this networking will be the small business edition.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow, that’s fantastic.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yeah. And that’s held in-person at the Gwinnett Chamber ,Friday at 9:00 AM.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Okay. And then in the audience, I mean, if you’re making this pitch, are there people that are potential investors or customers or are they just giving you some critique on how your pitch went?

Cally D’Angelo:
They’re giving you critique on how your pitch went. But we actually track leads. We track leads given and leads received.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s fantastic.

Cally D’Angelo:
Yeah. So there’s tangible leads that you can see, someone will learn about your business. And then the next time they hear a need, they’re going to be, I know a guy or I know a girl that can do that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. What’s great about the chamber members is they all want to help one another. So if somebody is in that room and they’re listening to a pitch, they want to help that new business owner or that small business owner right here and you want to have to say, we’ve got the solution right here. You don’t need to go to downtown Atlanta or Buckhead or any other area. And it seems as though everybody just wants to help each other.

Cally D’Angelo:
That is very true. Yeah. We have a very embracing group. People are ready to network, ready to build their business. The energy is high. So it’s awesome.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
No question about it. So you guys are ending the year. It’s been a crazy year, right? I mean, it’s been all over the map.

Cally D’Angelo:
Just a little bit, yes.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yes, exactly. So your forecast for 2022, a little bit better year but continued growth in Gwinnett County, right?

Cally D’Angelo:
Yeah, absolutely. And the Gwinnett Chamber had a very solid year. We’re very fortunate. We work hard for our members, so we’ve been able to sustain and actually grow. So we’re excited. We’re looking forward to another record year in 2022, and we’re excited to bring people on and help more folks.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s awesome. I just saw a report that the Wall Street Journal said new business starts are way up and they have been now for the last number of months. So this notion that all through COVID, you know, it’s not a good time to start a business, completely false. It’s a great time to start a business. And there’s been many people that have used this time wisely, whether they were on a severance package or whether they were on unemployment or whether they just took a break from working and said, let me see if now’s not the right time for me to take my side hustle and make it a full blown business, right?

Cally D’Angelo:
Yeah, absolutely. And you know the saying, necessity is the mother of invention, right? So we’ve seen a lot of startups. The phone calls have not slowed down. So it was very exciting because that was a concern when the pandemic first started. How was our pipeline going to be with small businesses? And they’ve rallied, they’re a tough group. And we’re excited.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s fantastic. Well, for everybody that’s listening, seriously, check this out, go to the website, we’ll show all the information here. We’ve been to it before, we’ve played a role in it. This is an event you don’t want to miss. The entire week, for sure. I mean, these people have put together an incredible group of resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs. If you fit into that category, which something tells me you do if you’re watching our network, then take action. And even if you’re not in Gwinnett, you don’t live in Gwinnett, you don’t do business, you can be a member of the Gwinnett Chamber, right?

Cally D’Angelo:
Yes, absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And it’s an incredible group of individuals. I would say Gwinnett Chamber, and I hope I’m not getting my other fellow chamber members at other locations upset, is probably one of the most progressive, I mean, you guys have been doing this and you’ve got your act together at Gwinnett Chamber. It’s one of the largest chambers out there, isn’t it?

Cally D’Angelo:
It is. It is one of the largest suburban chambers. Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
You guys do a great job. Well, Cally D’Angelo, Senior Director of Membership Services and Small Business Initiatives at the Gwinnett Chamber, thank you so much for joining us. This was great. Congratulations on, I shouldn’t say congratulations yet because it’s not over, but best of luck to you next week during Small Business Week.

Cally D’Angelo:
Thank you so much, Jim. We really appreciate your support.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great.


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