Seattle Metro Chamber Holds Inaugural Elevate NW Conference for Small Business Leaders in the Region

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Small business innovation and growth are priorities for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce as 80 percent of members are small and mid-size businesses with 100 employees or less. To support this membership, the Seattle Metro Chamber held a new interactive conference on Tuesday, April 24, 2018--the Elevate NW Conference.

Small business innovation and growth are priorities for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce as 80 percent of members are small and mid-size businesses with 100 employees or less. To support this membership, the Seattle Metro Chamber held a new interactive conference on Tuesday, April 24, 2018--the Elevate NW Conference.

The conference was designed to help leaders from small and mid-size businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses meet peers, learn from successful examples of growth and innovation, and understand what it takes to build relationships with larger and more established companies.

“The Northwest’s history is one of innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs – of dreaming big and working hard. These are the leaders we celebrate today,” noted Marilyn Strickland, president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber. “The Elevate NW Conference highlights that we all play a role in building relationships that create an environment where everyone can continue to flourish and innovate.”

The inaugural event was held at the Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion and Armory Lofts from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and featured more than 16 speakers, more than 250 attendees, and 13 sponsors. Scott Svenson, co-founder of MOD Pizza, was the keynote speaker and shared his business ownership journey and the importance of leading a purpose-led company.

The afternoon included three breakout sessions: Practices of Successful Growth, the Pursuit of Innovation, and the Power of Partnerships. Every session provided best practices and strategies used by regional businesses, with a focus on real-world experiences.

The Practices of Successful Growth session was moderated by Erika Schmidt, principal of Sappington and a Seattle Metro Chamber Board Trustee. The panelists included: Christal Bemont, senior vice president and general manager of global, small and medium business, SAP Concur; Tony Phillips, business services manager, BECU; and, Beto Yarce, executive director, Ventures.

“We all benefit when we connect with each other and ask, ‘how can I help you?’” noted Schmidt. “Access to other business leaders--no matter the size of the company--is a tremendous benefit of getting engaged in Seattle Metro Chamber events like Elevate NW.”

The Pursuit of Innovation panel was all about putting fresh ideas into action and translating lessons into business actions. The panel was moderated by David Harris, startup advocate for the Office of Economic Development at the City of Seattle. The panelists included: Jasmine Donovan, executive vice president and CFO, Dick's Drive-In Restaurants; Vikram Jandhyala, vice president for innovation strategy, University of Washington; Moorea Seal, founder, CEO and chief creative director, Moorea Seal; and Sarah Studer, business development and communications, Impact Hub.

The third panel was moderated by Jeremy Field, regional administrator of the Pacific NW Region for the U.S. Small Business Administration. The panelists included: Matt Galvin, co-owner, Pagliacci Pizza; Jaebadiah Gardner, founder and CEO, GardnerGlobal, Inc.; Hannah Hanley, chief marketing and strategy officer, Heritage Distilling Company; and, Leen Kawas, president and CEO, M3 Biotechnology, Inc.

The list of sponsors included Intellectual Ventures as the presenting sponsor. AP Insurance & Benefit Solutions, BECU, and Puget Sound Energy were the featured sponsors. Alabastro Photography, EY, National Event Pros, Recology, Seattle Storm, T-Mobile, and Premera were event sponsors, and The Evergrey, King 5, and The Seattle Times were media sponsors.

ABOUT THE CHAMBER
The Seattle Metropolitan (Seattle Metro) Chamber of Commerce engages the innovation and entrepreneurship of its 2,200 members to advance economic prosperity, advocate for a vital business environment, and build sustainable and healthy communities in the Seattle region. Founded in 1882 by local business leaders, the Chamber today is an independent organization representing 2,200 companies and a regional workforce of approximately 700,000.

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Erika Schmidt
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