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Fair helps give small businesses tools to succeed
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Bill Carlson discusses ReferenceUSA, his company that offers a free target marketing database with up-to-date business and residential information, Thursday morning at the Featherbone Communiversity Manufacturing Development Center during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Small Business Resource Fair. - photo by Scott Rogers

A newcomer to Hall County, Joanne Ramsaroop is more than just trying to familiarize herself with the community.

The Bank of America mortgage officer is trying to learn about her potential customer base and the housing market.

That’s why Thursday’s Small Business Resource Fair, a first-time event hosted by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, proved helpful.

“I don’t know a lot of what’s going on here with real estate,” said Ramsaroop, who arrived from Florida four months ago.

The event, drawing about 70 people to the Featherbone Communiversity in Gainesville, featured exhibitors from a variety of organizations with tools to help small businesses not just get off the ground but thrive.

Kyle Waddell, office manager for GetUWired, was one of those ready to help.

His company, an internet marketing agency with an office on Green Street in Gainesville, works with businesses on one of their important startup tasks — developing an online presence.

Small businesses “know what they need to do (online) but just don’t know how to do it,” he said.

The company “gives them the information they need to go online and be effective,” Waddell said. “There are proven strategies of how web marketing is effective and once you know those and how to manipulate those, you can be a lot more effective at the small things you do.”

The event’s featured speaker was Bill Carlson of ReferenceUSA, a free target marketing database with current business and residential information.

Nebraska-based ReferenceUSA can be accessed locally through the Hall County Library System’s website.

“Forty-two years ago, when we started, they basically had phone books sent from all over the country and we started doing data entry and building these files for all the businesses across the country,” Carlson said.

“Thank goodness for the internet. We now have this program online. ReferenceUSA allows you to do many things that will help you with the bottom line.”

Ramsaroop said she was impressed by the ReferenceUSA website “and the local resources it has.”

The chamber regularly holds seminars tailored to small businesses, but “we always have more topics than we have meetings,” said Tony Paramore, chairman of the chamber committee that pulls together the seminars.

“We felt like this (fair) was a way to bring a lot of different resources together at one time,” he said.

A lot of times, small businesses “feel like they’re out there alone and this was a way to say, ‘Hey, you don’t have to know everything.’ There are resources out there that can help you, to improve your business and make you more successful,” said Paramore, owner of Gainesville Paint.

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