Friday, September 19, 2014

First female Black Hawk pilot among guests at women veterans business conference

The first woman to pilot a Black Hawk helicopter will tell women veterans in Charlotte next week how they can use skills they learned on the front lines to boost their bottom lines.

More than 100 female veterans and active-duty military personnel are expected to spend about six hours with Elizabeth McCormick, a panel of four female business owners and vendors at Central Piedmont Community College on Tuesday as part of "A New Mission: How Military Women Become Entrepreneurs" conference.

Elizabeth McCormick
The event, a joint effort by CPCC's Sm
all Business Center and the Women's Business Center of North Carolina, starts at 8:30 a.m. in the Harris Conference Center, 3216 CPCC Harris Campus Drive. It's expected to end at 2:30 p.m.

Also on tap: an expo featuring vendors from the city of Charlotte, economic development officials and Charlotte SCORE (Service Corps. of Retired Executives), and sessions offering tools to help veterans start businesses.

All women, including female military veterans, active-duty women service members, veteran spouses and active-duty service members, are invited to attend the event. The event is free, but registration is required.

The rising number of female-owned businesses and an influx of military personnel in the area motivated organizers to focus the conference around women, said Renee Hode, executive director of CPCC's Small Business Center.

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 770,000 veterans live in North Carolina. A recent OPEN State of Women-Owned Business report shows that an estimated 1,200 new American businesses a day were started by women over the past year, up from 740 a day a year earlier.

Veterans also have several skills that are transferable to business ownership, Hode said, such as resourcefulness, strong leadership skills and adaptability to change.

"They work with things on the fly," she said. "Things that happen in a business everyday are not routine."

McCormick, an author and inspirational speaker, will deliver a keynote address during lunch. She has spoken at women's retreats, religious conventions, seminars, youth groups and Girl Scouts troops, according to her website.

On Tuesday, she will draw from her own challenging experiences and explain how she used them to start her own business.

The four panelists, all military veterans who own businesses that vary from product innovation to providing services to the community, will talk about the challenges they faced starting their business post-military service. Some of them have owned businesses for more than five years, while at least one is still at the two-year startup level, Hode said.