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Summit concludes with advice for local businesses

May 11, 2011

SALEM - Larry Kosiba, executive director of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, said, "I think it was a great two-day conference."

He added, "I am extremely pleased with the event and the turnout."

The second Columbiana County Economic Summit concluded on Tuesday at the Salem Community Center.

Organized and hosted by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and the SODC, it was themed "Teaming4Success 2011" and drew more than 200 people including elected officials from all levels of government and business along with community leaders.

More than 120 people attended Monday when Lt. Gov. Mary Tayler (R) was the luncheon headliner and close to 100 people attended throughout Tuesday when growing business through access to technology and through access to government contracts were the hot topics.

Kosiba noted Taylor's visit as the high point.

"It's testament to the importance of the area. Our unemployment rate is unacceptable and we have to improve it," he said, adding, "we met the goals of the event."

He listed those as "exposing a lot of businesses to a wealth of information, not just for start-up and future businesses, but established businesses as well."

Highly successful funding, entrepreneurial programs were also showcased along with the wealth of talent in the area, he said.

"The event has clearly grown into a Northeast Ohio regional event. Who would have thought from humble beginnings last year we would have grown to this?

"We attempted to provide something for everyone," Kosiba explained. "Business people, elected officials and community leaders."

He added, "The big thing was this was not just for potential entrepreneurs, but the everyone and highlighted resources and the ability to work together."

Representatives of OMEGA, the Ohio EPA and the USDA, NASA, the Dayton Defense Contractors Association, the Columbiana County Port Authority, the Ohio Department of Development, the Community Improvement Program, the Ohio Department of General Services, the Kent State University Center for Entrepreneurial and Business Innovation and the Ohio Small Business Development Centers attended.

Joe Belinsky, business advisor of Ohio SBDC, said he was "thrilled" to be part of the second summit calling it "a revolution in this county" and more dynamic that the first.

Salem businessman Don Wolfgang, who attended both days, said. "It was dynamite."

He added, "These are high profile open doors."

One of Tuesday's speakers, Deborah Gross, representing the Dayton Defense Contractors Association, said their aim was to "promote U.S. products better" through a number of programs helping to specifically link companies to government contracts.

Speaking for more than an hour, she pointed to a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement that is available as "another good way to get your foot in the door and advance your concepts further."

Councilman Dave Nestic, also a businessman, called her information "really pertinent ... since the military researched everything."

He called the military a "small country" that can be successfully and "blindly" sold to through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).

Kosiba, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel stationed at Wright patterson AFB, lists an extensive background in business development; technology commercialization and integration; and economic development.

"We have so much manufacturing potential, but so few (military) contracts," he said.

Larry Shields can be reached at



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