Skip to Main Content Easy Reading Mode: Off
Site Search

Northwest Michigan Virtual Business Summit 2021

The Northwest Michigan Virtual Business Summit

Lead. Grow. Hire. Advance.
Tools for a Ahanging Economy.
Brought to you by Networks Northwest.

April 28, 2021 8:30am-12:30pm

Click here to register

Keynote Presentation By:

How Leaders Leverage RISK to Win

While uncertainty can cause excessive stress, it can also create the ideal conditions for businesses to transform if they’re willing to take a risk. The New York Times Best-Selling author and Northern Michigan native Angie Morgan will share in her opening keynote:

  • The 3 Misconceptions about Risk (and how they’re holding you back)
  • How to embrace uncertainty and make decisions that lead to progress
  • Best practices for building resiliency 

Angie’s led in the Marine Corps, in business, and in her community. She also advises leaders among the world’s best businesses, to include Clif Bar, Marathon Oil, Google, and many other equally impressive businesses and organizations. Visit for more information.

Summit participants will be able to choose from any of the sessions in any of three tracks below and will have opportunities to “Meet the Experts” and network in virtual break-out rooms.


Learn how to develop a more diverse customer base through government contracting and exporting to mitigate risk and provide additional financial security and stability.

U.S. Federal Government is the Largest Buyer in the World

Cathy Fairbanks, Regional Director
Northwest Michigan PTAC

If you are interested in selling your products/services to the government, please join our session to learn how our PTAC Counselors can walk you through the steps to be properly registered with the government, show you how to locate sales opportunities, help you put together a competitive bid, and more. Our services are provided at no cost to you.

Doing Business Internationally Doesn’t Have To Be Foreign

Chris Bosio
International Trade Manager
Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Take your small business Global using a network of resources that will guide you on your journey and accelerate your path to success

Export Connections through the Global Trade Alliance

Rob Dickinson
Regional Export Network Program Manager
Networks Northwest

The Global Trade Alliance of Northern Michigan is a business resource for international trade. We connect businesses to service providers and peers to assist the launch and enhancement of global trade operations.

Taking Advantage of Your Small Business Status

Cathy Fairbanks, Regional Director
Northwest Michigan PTAC

The federal government works to make sure small businesses get at least 23% of all federal contracting dollars. Additionally, the government tries to award a certain percentage of all federal prime contracting dollars to small businesses that meet certain socio-economic conditions (ex. Women-Owned, Service Disabled Veteran-Owned.) Learn how to take advantage of your small business status.


We survived 2020; now it’s time to truly thrive. Learn how to intentionally chart a path to success for your small business. Find out about pivoting to online sales, implementing critical systematic changes, investing in your staff, and setting goals.

Retail Stores Pivoting to Online Sales

Tim Rehard
MI-SBDC Contract Business Consultant

I've been a small retail shop for years. My customers want to support me and are asking if they can buy things online. I want to do it but I don't know how! Join our SBDC consultants for a brief overview of software platforms that will allow you to sell your products online and still be able to manage your retail inventory all in one place.

Focus Four™ - The Small Business Management System

Michael L. Gay, MBA, CFP®, BCA®, CEPA®,
MI-SBDC Business Growth Consultant

I have lofty goals for my business, but I’m struggling to accomplish them all. In addition, I’m working too many hours and my team doesn’t always seem to be on the same page that I am. Cash flow is also a concern. How can I profitably grow my business with less chaos, more control and fewer missteps? Join one of our Focus Four™ facilitators for a brief overview of the four factors that the most successful small business owners have mastered.

Making the Case to Find Time for Employee Training – Pay Now or Pay Later!

Gretchen Swanson, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
MI-SBDC Business Consultant

Margins are tight - so budget now for critical training time for your seasonal and year-round team. Don't delay or defer basic training. Identify the essential elements for new hire onboarding and annual required training for all employees. Leverage existing resources, many of them are free, to avoid unintended non-compliance.

Setting ‘Real Life’ Goals

Annie Olds, MBA
Northwest MI-SBDC Regional Director

We tend to overthink what makes a goal ‘good’ and we’re commonly told that all goals must be measurable. For some of us, that depends on how you look at it! What if we took a step back and changed how we approached setting goals for ourselves personally, professionally, and especially for our businesses?


Explore how the talent pipeline has evolved. Learn about the current labor market and find out more about resourcesfor hiring and retaining talent that will help your business’ bottom line.

The Current Labor Market

Nick Gandhi,
Economic Analyst –Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.
Department of Technology, Management, and Budget – State of Michigan

The COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to severely impact Michigan’s labor market. This session will explore those consequences both at the state and regional levels and touch on the future employment outlook.

Registered Apprenticeships

Evelyn Szpliet,
Manager of Apprenticeships & Business Resource Networks Northwest Michigan Works!

Talent is employer driven and in this session, participants will learn how to create a customized Department of Labor registered apprenticeship for their specific workforce development, expansion and retention needs.

The Benefits of an Educated Workforce

Christy Nelson,
Regional Director of Adult Education for the Northwest Michigan Works! Learning Labs

Studies have shown that there are many benefits of having an educated workforce. Increased productivity and employee retention are just a few. This session will explore these benefits as well how the Northwest Michigan Works! Learning Labs can help your employees complete their high school education and move on to higher levels of training.

Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers with the Offender Success Program

Jessica Willis, LMSW
Offender Success Regional Director Networks Northwest

The Offender Success program works directly with formerly incarcerated individuals to ensure they are prepared, skilled and ready to work. Hear about these incentives for employers willing to tap into this eager pool of job seeker, and how the program can support you in hiring and retaining formerly incarcerated individuals.

Networks NorthwestNorthwest Michigan Works!Northwest Michigan PTACAmericals SBDC MichiganGlobal Trade Alliance of Northern Michigan

Northwest Michigan Works! is an essential resource for employers and job seekers in the Northern Michigan area.
- Kathy Stuart, Michigan Rubber Products Human Resource Manager