NON/CON: A conference for unconventional entrepreneurs

With a line-up of community leaders and small business owners from the Northern Kentucky entrepreneur arena to share their expertise, the 2019 Non-Conventional (NON/CON) Entrepreneur Conference, presented by SparkLight Creative Group through a grant from The Center for Great Neighborhoods, brought together attendees at The Hellmann Creative Center in Covington on May 4 to discuss some of the key challenges and opportunities the region presents for non-traditional entrepreneurs.

NON/CON provided an environment unlike anything else — where our community of small business owners, contractors, and home businesses came together for a half-day of invaluable education, connection, and inspiration, all conducted at the Hellmann Creative Center, a cultivative hub for art, design, and creative placemaking.

The half-day conference was composed of five sessions of highly educational content provided by a roster of speakers and other like-minded entrepreneurs and innovators looking to build relationships, participate in impactful networking, and create partner opportunities.

Kicking off the event with his introductory remarks on the importance of diversity in the area’s entrepreneurial landscape, Jerome Bowles, CEO of Bowles Center for Diversity Inc., brought to attention a change needed in our area, where diversity needs to be more central with regard to entrepreneur development.

As for the other insights shared at the event, I was fortunate enough to conduct one of the first trainings under the title “So You Want To Create a Business Plan,” which revolved around discovering how those with a business idea could re-package their idea to receive equity; both monetary and cultural.

There was a round table discussion comprised of new small business owners who recently completed the FreshLo Chefs program at The Center for Great Neighborhoods. According to The Center’s website, the program is designed to give a hand up and a push forward to anyone with a passion to start, or to grow, their own food-based business.

The second set of trainings delved on the importance of taking on entrepreneurship in a conscious way and getting an intense rundown on what small businesses should know about taxes.

John Wood, who specializes in business and individual tax, as well as audit and accounting services, gave a presentation on small business taxes. In addition, Michelle Slaughter, a socially conscious millennial who is enthralled with civic engagement, conveyed the importance of being a conscious entrepreneur.

The conference's dynamic keynote, delivered by WVXU's “Cincinnati Edition” Host Michael Monks, seemed to be a case to never give up on a dream deferred.

Organizers believe the stand-alone nature of a conference which targets the non-traditional entrepreneur, tapping into their specific gifts and traits, will bring reality to a much larger audience. This is why they have already started the process to begin planning for next year’s conference. Interested in participating on the planning committee? Contact SparkLight Creative Group at for info.

Read more articles by Kareem A. Simpson.

Raised in the inner city of Covington, Kentucky, Kareem Simpson is an author, innovator, community enthusiast, military veteran, serial entrepreneur, foodie and lover of all things creative.
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