Women’s Business Development Center: ‘Back Together Again’: Women’s Business Development Center revives in-person annual business conference

Chicago – After two years of virtual gatherings, the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) will make the first day of this year’s Midwest Business Conference in-person. TheDay one Conference program is being held on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare,9300 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, Rosemont, Illinois. Day two will be a virtual Corporate Connections and a virtual WBDC qualifying bracket for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Pitch.

“Our last in-person conference was hosted in 2019, and we are eager to be back together again for the first day of this year’s Midwest Business Conference”, said Emilia DiMenco, President and CEO of the WBDC. “Women business owners will gather to reconnect, cultivate new relationships, and receive valuable information and inspiration to support their business ventures.”

The Conference will kick off at 4:00 p.m. CT with an economic backdrop from Dr. Kristen Broady, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Dr. Broady is a former fellow at the Brookings Institution with experience performing research and analysis on areas such as the racial wealth gap, the return to education investment, and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next, Conference attendees will hear from a panel of leaders of certified Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) who will share their playbooks on adjusting to the new economic and business realities. The panel will be moderated by Eva Brown, WBDC Board Member and Segment Leader, Minority and Women-Owned Businesses, U.S. Bank. The panelists are:      

  • Ari Rodriguez Boog, CEO, Archifootprint, Inc. (Michigan)
  • Caren Schweitzer, Founder and President, Creative Resources (Minnesota)
  • Rashi Arora Khosla, Founder and CEO, MARS Solution Group (Wisconsin)

The business education segment from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. CT offers two sessions designed to give suppliers a competitive advantage in the marketplace. One features the CEO of Landmark Pest Management, Rebecca Fyffe, who will present a toolkit on how suppliers can gain a bidding advantage by developing supplier and workforce development plans. The other covers meeting cybersecurity entrance requirements in the insurance, utility, and retail industries. This panel will feature:

  • LaJuan Miller, Senior Manager, Third Party Risk Management & Surveillance, Ameren     
  • Mike Nott, Director of Sourcing & Procurement, American Family Insurance
  • Sara Schmidt, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Security Officer, US Foods

The in-person day ends with a networking reception from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. CT.

Day two, Thursday, Sept. 8, consists of two virtual activities, starting with Corporate Connections from 10 a.m. to 12:00 CT.  Corporate Connections features an insightful “worst practices” panel explaining how to avoid mistakes that can be deal-killers in sales efforts, followed by industry break-out rooms to hear about upcoming opportunities at participating corporations. From 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. CT, the WBDC will host the virtual Midwest Bracket for the first round in the WBENC Pitch. During the bracket, WBEs will give 90 second pitches on the innovations in their businesses, which will be evaluated by WBDC corporate partners. Winners from the WBDC Midwest bracket will move on to the WBENC semi-finals in October.