Business seminar to be held

The Town of Front Royal will host a seminar about building a better business climate for local businesses on Wednesday morning.

The Main Street Co-Opetition seminar, conducted by the Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center, will focus on how to develop more shopping in the downtown area by getting business owners to work together, along with the town and county.

Jim Kraft, executive director of the center, said the event is a way to bring all of the “stakeholders” in the business community together.

“To have a successful business climate is the responsibility of everyone in town: the business owner, the city, the county, the residents,” Kraft said. “They all need to work together to make it a favorable place to operate.”

Kraft added, “Co-opetition means there is a competition for everyone’s dollar, but you still have to have cooperation amongst everyone to make it successful.”

Casey Wilson, the Main Street and Sustainability Programs Manager at the Maryland Small Business and Technology Development Center in College Park, Maryland, will lead the event, Kraft said.

“Casey’s been working with retail merchants in cities and towns and he has been working with retail businesses in downtown areas for many years,” Kraft said. “He’s focused on how to make retail successful.”

Kraft said Wilson created a program in Maryland called the Small Town and Merchants Program, which focuses on boosting downtown shopping.

“Business people are very independent by nature,” Kraft said. “Trying to bring all the players together, from business owners to consumers to local government, can be very difficult, but that’s been one of Wilson’s principle strengths.”

Front Royal Town Manager Steve Burke said the seminar is the first of a series that will be conducted by the center.

“The expectation is to have two or three this year,” Burke said. “Hopefully we’ll hear some response after this inaugural seminar as to what other issues and topics we should work with the center to present to business owners.”

Burke said while the seminar is open to all businesses, the focus of the seminar will be on the downtown area.

“Co-Opetition typically starts in a downtown area with a greater number of locally, independently owned businesses, with the idea if they work to promote each other, all the local businesses will benefit in the long run,” Burke said.

Burke said he hopes “the message that working together to benefit all will permeate throughout the business community.”

“For example, if you have a restaurant owner and they hear a patron mention a specific service one of our local businesses can provide, I hope the owner will suggest that local business as a provider for that service or a supplier for that commodity,” Burke said.

He added, “If we start having restaurants referring diners to other businesses and businesses referring patrons to restaurants, hopefully we can create a positive and vibrant downtown area.”

The Main Street Co-Opetition seminar will held be in the Town Hall Meeting Room at 102 E. Main St. in Front Royal, Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Those interested are asked to make a reservation at 540-635-8007 or by email to jberry@frontroyalva.com.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com