Business owners and potential entrepreneurs are invited to the 2018 Southeast Arkansas Business & Enterprise Development Conference. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, March 2, in the Fine Arts Center of Spencer Gallery at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

The event is free, however registration is requested. The conference is funded by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Arkansas Human Development Corporation and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

A “Lenders Roundtable Breakfast” will be held at 8:30 a.m. where participants will network with local, regional and statewide lenders, according to a news release.

Mike Preston, director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, will be the luncheon speaker.

“He brings a wealth of experience as an economic development leader in Arkansas and Florida,” according to the release. “Since coming to Arkansas, he has helped over 300 companies locate or expand here, encouraged investment of more than $7 billion and helped create over 16,000 jobs.”

Conference topics will include building effective partnerships, securing capital, developing business plans and selling goods and services to the government.

The event will bring together approximately 20 private, state, federal and nonprofit organizations with a goal of equipping small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools, skills and resources needed to start and expand their businesses, according to the release.

The session will be hosted by the AEDC, AHDC, Arkansas Procurement Assistance Center of the University of Arkansas Agriculture Cooperative Extension Office, Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, Drew County Chamber of Commerce, UAM and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Current business owners and those just getting started, youth entrepreneurs, business and technical school students, apprentices, veterans and community and economic development professionals, are invited to attend this unique opportunity,” according to a news release. “You will engage with other business owners, receive help with research and business planning, learn how to increase your networking results and learn to do more business with government and private industry.”

To register, contact the Arkansas Human Development Corp. at 800-482-7641 or at