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Stark County Entrepreneur Experience Begins March 22

Posted Feb. 18, 2011

The Small Business Development Center, Kent State University at Stark (SBDC) is proud to announce the 2011 Stark County Entrepreneur Experience, featuring several events to educate and provide networking opportunities for entrepreneurs at all levels. Sponsored by the Stark Development Board and the SDBC, all events will be held at The University Center, 6000 Frank Avenue NW in Jackson Township.

Tuesday, March 22

Experiences as an Entrepreneur
Andre Thornton, President and CEO, ASW Global
7:30 - 9:30 a.m. • $15/person • Breakfast is included

Thornton is the CEO of ASW Global, a supply chain management company, and has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurial ventures. He often speaks to national audiences on the topics of leadership, organizational change and diversity. The author of Triumph Born out of Tragedy, Thornton was twice featured in educational videos for his entrepreneurial and marketing leadership success at GPI Procurement Services where he served as president and CEO. Nicknamed “Thunder Thornton,” he is also a Cleveland baseball legend who played professionally for 21 years, including 10 years with the Cleveland Indians, where he was a two-time All-Star.

Wednesday, March 30

The Genesis of Bizdom U
Ross Sanders, CEO, Bizdom U
7:30 - 9:30 a.m. • $15/person • Breakfast is included

Bizdom U, created to develop entrepreneurial businesses in Detroit, is a program that assists entrepreneurs in launching businesses. During Bizdom U’s business development program, entrepreneurs are provided the support necessary to put these ideas to work and create successful businesses. Those who develop a business plan approved by the Bizdom fund receive funding and continuous guidance for their businesses. All of these services are provided at no cost to those who are accepted into the program. Sanders’ presentation will focus on how Bizdom U can be replicated for the entrepreneurs Northeastern Ohio.

Tuesday, April 5

Panel of Entrepreneurs
Moderated by Ned Parks and brought to you by AultCare
7:30 - 9:30 a.m. • $15/person • Continental breakfast is included

A panel featuring several Stark County’s leading entrepreneurs will divulge the secrets to their successful businesses. Panel members include:

  • Sue Grabowski, President, Grabowski and Company
  • Marvin Montgomery, Author/Trainer/Speaker, Sales Consultant, ERC Services
  • Christina Pastore-Bucher, CEO, Park Farms
  • Todd Pugh, Founder and CEO, Enviroscapes
  • Ted Swaldo, Founder, ASC Industries and Gervasi Vineyard and Italian Bistro
  • Barbara Fausnight-Winston, CEO, Executive Insurance Group

Wednesday, April 6
College and University Student Entrepreneurs Competition
8 a.m. - noon • $10/person • Continental breakfast is included

Students from five colleges and universities in Stark County will present business plans for the creation of jobs in Stark County for graduating college and university students. Scholarships of $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000 will be awarded to the best three presentations. The scholarships are made possible through a grant from the Stark Community Foundation.

Tuesday, April 12

Students Day Kick-Off Breakfast
Speaker John Dearborn, President, JumpStart, Inc.
8 - 9 a.m. • $10/person • Continental breakfast is included

John Dearborn brings 25 years experience in software, Internet and mobile technologies, along with senior management experience leading entrepreneurial companies to JumpStart, Inc. Most recently, he was the CEO and a board member of 3Guppies Inc., a mobile social networking company in Seattle, Wash. Since returning to Cleveland, he has been a board advisor to several startups in the areas of strategy development, fundraising and product development. Following the breakfast event, Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio will host the Third Annual Junior Achievement Business Challenge, a national competition involving 11th and 12th grade high school students from Stark, Tuscarawas and Carroll counties. Additionally, winners of the College and University Student Entrepreneurs Competition will be announced at this event.

Thursday, April 14
Featured Speakers Series Presentation: Jerome Ringo
The Green Economy and a Clean Energy Future
7:30 p.m.
Free, but tickets are required and will be available beginning Monday, March 28 at Kent State Stark’s Main Hall Information Desk.

Jerome Ringo’s 20 years of experience working in Louisiana’s petrochemical industry compelled him to educate communities on how to stop chemical discharge in their neighborhoods through environmental activism. A member of Green Group and Newsweek’s Environment and Leadership Council, he is a passionate advocate for alternative clean-energy sources and energy-efficient technology and jobs, in addition to expanding minority participation in green businesses.

Tuesday, April 19
Entrepreneurial Conspiracy: A Seminar on Management Focus and Discipline
Chuck Violand, Facilitator
7:30 - 10 a.m. • $20/person • Continental breakfast is included

Chuck Violand has more than 20 years of experience working with small business owners. In this presentation, he illustrates the impact mastering “Focus and Discipline” has on small businesses. He also identifies six other behaviors that act as an early warning system to let you know when focus and discipline are starting to falter.

Contributing sponsors for the Entrepreneur Experience include AultCare, the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, the Stark County Community Foundation and Dominion East Ohio. Participating sponsors include JB Young Professionals, Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio Inc., Kent State Stark and YStark! Smart Business magazine is the media sponsor.

Event registrations and payments must be made online at by VISA, MasterCard or Discover only. Questions regarding the Stark County Entrepreneur Experience may be directed to or 330-244-3290.

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About the Small Business Development Center of Ohio:
The Small Business Development Center, Kent State University at Stark (SBDC) is a fully funded, non-profit organization that is devoted to helping small businesses grow and individuals to start new businesses through training programs and no-cost consultation sessions. Its responsibility is to provide every opportunity to support the creation of jobs in Stark County. The SBDC is hosted at Kent State University at Stark by The Corporate University.

The SBDC program is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBDC program is also funded in part by the Ohio Department of Development. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.