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‘Got Your Back’ Business Event set for April 26

CREATE BRIDGES is partnering with regional business support organizations to celebrate local businesses and their resiliency over the past several years by hosting a business conference on Tuesday, April 26, from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  at the Paper Mill Pavilion in downtown Sylva.  The “GOT YOUR BACK Local Business Summit” is open to WNC employers in the 6 western-most counties including Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon and Swain.   Attendees will have the opportunity to collaborate and network, while learning valuable insights for creating a workplace where people are excited to work.  The ultimate goal of this event is to support business owners who are facing incredible challenges with finding and keeping great employees.

Elissa Hashemi is the program coordinator for this project and encourages all professionals to consider attending this event since there will truly be something for everyone.  “Our community has proven they can bounce back from anything and come out stronger.  So many of our locally owned businesses have persevered with too few employees, supply chain issues, rising costs, stressed customers and so much uncertainty.  Can it be easier?  Can they find some relief?  My hope is yes.  I want these folks who are such a part of what makes our community the unique place that it is to be able to finally take a deep breath and feel confident about the future of their businesses.  I hope this event shows them that there is support for them and people who do ‘have their backs’!”, Hashemi said. “So, whether you have 2 employees or 20, this is a must-attend event.”

CREATE BRIDGES has spent the past year listening to local employment concerns for small businesses who shared a collective desire to improve business marketability to the labor market.  The “Got Your Back” event will provide hands-on workshops with things that can be immediately implemented to improve a company’s ability to have a strong employee base.  Some of these tangible take-aways include a strategy to handle workplace conflicts, coaching tips on providing feedback to employees and information on expanding employee benefits, without an additional expense.  Due to limited capacity, registration is limited to one representative from each business. Businesses in attendance will receive a ‘Got Your Back’ recognition and “swag bag”, which includes a decal that can be proudly displayed on your store window or online presence. Other “swag bag” items include membership in a special business-to-business portal with resources, invitations to future networking events and a commercial video for your business to be used on your website and social media. 

“We’ve pulled together some of the best resources and subject matter experts from across the region for this one-day event,” said Marne Harris, director of small business training at Southwestern Community College Small Business Center. “As we enter into the busiest time of year while many are struggling to stay open due to staffing shortages, we felt the timing was more critical than ever to offer support to our local businesses.”  A fantastic lineup of speakers include local experts Tonya Snider (TenBiz) and Annie Wilson (Western Carolina University), as well as regional, Asheville-based resources Hannah Randall (former CEO of Manna Food Bank) and Sarah Benoit (JB Media), just to name a few.

Interactive sessions will be held throughout the day and include the following topics:

  • Turning Jobs Into Careers
  • Keeping Your Employees
  • Finding the Employees You’ve Been Searching For
  • The Truth About Leadership
  • Providing a Safe and Positive Workplace
  • Training Your Employees
  • Improving Your Work Environment
  • Employee Performance Evaluations That Work

The registration deadline for the ‘Got Your Back’ Local Business Summit is Thursday, April 21.  Registration is $20 and lunch is included.  If you plan to attend, you must register by visiting http:/ For more information about the conference, or about the Small Business Center, contact Marne Harris at 828-339-4211 or

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