Angie Cowger, an owner of Custard Stand Food Products and The Custard Stand restaurants, is fresh from three West Virginia business conferences where she spoke on three different panels.

Angie attended the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting at The Greenbrier, Alignment 2018 Conference in Morgantown, and the Women & Technology Conference in Charleston. “These events are a great way to meet other business owners and talk with industry leaders and elected officials,” she said. “I always come away with lots of good notes and more connections to grow our business.”

Highlights from each conference

WV Chamber meeting

Between panels, Angie talked with Evan Jenkins, interim Supreme Court Justice and former U.S. House of Representatives member, about business opportunities with state and federal agencies. Jenkins said small businesses should ask elected officials for help and put us to work for you. Let them know how your business creates jobs in an economically deprived area, he said. Ask elected officials to help you make connections with the right people. Angie and Dee Cowger have a long-standing goal of getting Custard Stand Hot Dog Chili and Custard Stand Chili Soup with Beef and Beans on the menu at college and university eateries and residence hall cafeterias, at state parks and in prisons and jails.

Alignment 2018

Use the power of a group and different voices for brainstorms and problem-solving. “We do this fairly often in the office,” Angie said. “But we do not always include production staff or outsiders who have expertise in specific areas such as elected officials, the Economic Development Authority, the Small Business Development Authority. We’re going to change that.”

Women & Technology Conference

Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-WV, pointed out that only 23% of the U.S. Senate is female while women make up half of the population in the country. Moore Capito echoed a popular sentiment that women in business have a responsibility to “pull up” the next woman, no matter her age. “I try to do this already and hearing from high school and college students in attendance made me realize I need to try to mentor women of all ages.” Being on a panel with Mary Ann Ketelson, president of Mister Bee, a 65-year-old powerhouse, and Heather Cyphert of Precision Tool | Progressive Industries, which offers manufacturing and machining services, reminded Angie that she needs to have reciprocal relationships with these amazing women, too. Read WV News report on the conference.