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Published: Tuesday, 6/15/2010

Area entrepreneurs invited to network at event for innovators, investors

BY ALIYYA SWABY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Regional Growth Partnership is calling all entrepreneurs and innovators to participate in an event that will help them make contacts and may even find investors.

Tech Connect, which will take place at the Toledo Club at 5 p.m. tomorrow, is an opportunity for people involved with technology to network. It is sponsored by the growth partnership of Toledo, which helps businesses and entrepreneurs develop their ideas. Investors who may help budding entrepreneurs will be at the event.

The first Tech Connect took place almost three years ago, and only 40 people attended, said Steve Weathers, president and chief executive of the partnership.

Recently the event has attracted 300 or so looking for help with starting a business.

The event is open to anyone, but people with nontechnology ideas will be referred to different centers for assistance, Mr. Weathers said.

Though he acknowledged that the event could attract people with seemingly illogical ideas, he said they would not try to screen those who attend.

"It's an open forum. We're in America," he said. "At one time, Google was a crazy idea."

A business-mentoring organization, SCORE, always is looking for more potential clients, said Jack Chezek, assistant district director of the northwest Ohio chapter.

His chapter works with the U.S. Small Business Administration and uses volunteer experienced business executives, often retired, to mentor those looking to start a business. The group's services are free.

The local SCORE is busy, Mr. Chezek said, with 1,300 clients last fiscal year. Still, it could be busier, he said.

"A lot of people don't realize that our services are all free," he said, a fact that could entice more people to take advantage of their services.



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