By Allison Bruce
Posted April 18, 2011

What: Power Your Business diversity conference
When:
8AM – 5:30PM  April 26
Where:
Amgen’s conference center in Thousand Oaks or online through WebEx (link provided to those who register in advance of the conference)
Cost:
$99 in person or $59 online; registration is on a first-come basis
To register:
Visit http://www.vamboa.org

Owners of minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses will have a chance to learn about pursuing contracts with the government and private companies, as well as ways to secure loans and funding, at a daylong conference in Thousand Oaks on April 26.

The Power Your Business event, hosted by Amgen in the biotechnology company’s conference center, will highlight how small-business owners can capitalize on their status as diverse suppliers.

A wide range of business owners have signed up for the event, said Debbie Gregory, owner of MilitaryConnection.com, an online directory of resources, and founder of Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, an organizer of the event.

“Veterans make wonderful entrepreneurs,” Gregory said, emphasizing the skills and discipline they bring to their work.

The idea of the conference is to give them and others resources they can use in their businesses.

Keynote speakers will include personal finance expert Jordan Goodman, known as the “money answers man”; motivational speaker Linda Larsen; and Rocky Chavez, acting California Department of Veterans Affairs secretary.

Gregory said the day also will include panel discussions covering certification and verification, finance and loans, government contracting and how to win business from top corporations. Corporate participants will include Toyota, Microsoft, AT&T, Pfizer and others. The federal Department of Veterans Affairs, Labor Department and Small Business Administration also will be involved.

Goodman has written several books and co-wrote the Barron’s Dictionary of Finance and Investment Terms.

He said personal finance is closely tied to business finances when it comes to small-business owners. He said his role is to make them aware of programs that can help land jobs with government agencies or large corporations.

“They offer great services, the companies need them and they just don’t know how to reach each other,” he said. That’s what the conference and organizations such as the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association are all about, he said.

Veterans in particular bring great technical and management skills to their businesses, but sometimes have the challenge of not having worked in the corporate world, he said. Many don’t realize that companies are looking for them as suppliers to meet certain requirements and mandates — something that can provide opportunities for their businesses.

“These programs exist, but in many cases, they’re not really communicated well to veterans and minorities,” he said.

Farryn Melton, Amgen’s vice president of strategic sourcing, said Amgen seeks to enhance its own supplier diversity program through partnerships and by hosting events, such as the conference.

Gregory commended Amgen for its role in the conference.

“Amgen reaches out and is a company that doesn’t just talk, but walks the walk when it comes to supplier diversity,” she said.

The conference is open to a limited number of attendees in person as well as online.

In addition to Amgen and the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, the event is being organized by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Ventura County; National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; Southern California Minority Business Development Council; and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.