COLUMBIA - Local businesses are preparing for the fifth annual Minority and Women-Owned Business Week and Expo.

The Columbia Supplier Diversity Program will host the event, which will be held virtually this year from Monday, Feb. 22, to Friday, Feb. 26.

Local businesses can get tips on how to succeed in creating and running a small business, while making sure they have all the certifications that are necessary. While this event is all week long, it is open to the public starting Wednesday, Feb. 25.

One local business owner said that the connections from this expo are what she is looking forward to the most this year.

“I think this expo offers an opportunity for exposure and a chance to highlight services and things that women and minority owned businesses do in town that people might not know about,” Chrystal Graves-Yazici, owner of Chrystal L. Hair & Makeup, said.

Local businesses are also able to make sure they have all of the necessary certifications for running their business. Businesses can gain federal, state and local government agency contacts.

However, for most businesses attending the virtual seminar, this opportunity for them means more than just attracting more business. It means highlighting businesses in the area that normally may fly under the radar.

“So the expo is an opportunity to really get those names, services, and businesses out there,” Graves-Yazici said. “So it's very important. It's work that we should be doing all the time. I'm not just during a minority business, women week or month in March.”

Below is the Minority and Women Owned Business Week and Expo event schedule, according to a news release:

  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday: Kickoff & MWBE Local Resources Webinars.
  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesday: Federal, State and Local Certification Requirements Webinars.
  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesday: Residential & Commercial Contractors and Services Expo.
  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursday: Women Owned Business Expo.
  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. next Friday: Minority Owned Business Expo and Closing Program.

To see which businesses are attending the seminar, you can find them here.

The event is also open to view for the public here. To register your business for the expo, you can also visit this Google Doc registration form.

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