Diane Laird, Downtown Delaware/Delaware Main Street
Diane Laird is the State Coordinator for Downtown Delaware. In the one-staff office, Ms. Laird oversees, coordinates, and conducts technical services to eight designated Main Street towns and nine Commercial District Affiliates, while providing support to downtown entrepreneurs and small business owners statewide. Two of the eight designated towns are recent GAMSA winners. Diane serves as Vice Chair for the Main Street Executive Committee, and represents the Northeast region of the country. She has co-led numerous educational sessions at the annual National Main Streets Conferences, including “The New Economy is NOW! Is Your Business Community Entrepreneurial Enough to Compete”?, co-authored the August 2007 Main Street News article “Recruiting Sustainable Businesses” and speaks regularly in Delaware on the topics of downtown business development, vacancy reduction, eCommerce, and strategic planning. Diane was recently awarded the “Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service” for Innovative Ideas in Entrepreneurial Development for Downtown Delaware and has worked with the Delaware Economic Development Office since 1998.
Ken Anderson, Delaware Economic Development Office
Ken Anderson is the Director for Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support for the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), an Executive Management Office of Governor Jack Markell, and also chairs the Governor's Supplier Diversity Council. In that capacity, Ken is the central point for entrepreneurism and small business support for the state of Delaware and chairs the Governor's Entrepreneurial Business Conference, Delaware Small Business Summit, and Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Conference. Ken also directs the activities of the Delaware Emerging Technology Center (ETC), a virtual incubator for Delaware entrepreneurs, innovators and small businesses, which features the ETC Boot Camp and Business Plan Competitions, the ETC Secrets of Success Events and partners with other entrepreneurial initiatives throughout the state and region. Under Ken's direction, the Delaware ETC recently began offering the Kauffman Foundation FastTrac entrepreneurial training programs throughout Delaware including being selected for a pilot program exclusively for Veterans. Ken is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurially-based and small business development topics, and co-led the New Economy is NOW! Is Your Business Community Entrepreneurial Enough to Compete? last year in Baltimore . He has served for 25+ years in Executive capacities, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, and attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California.
Margie Johnson, Shop Talk
Margie Johnson, Shop Talk, Inc. VA Beach, VA speaker, trainer, author, and consultant, equips entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills that lead them to higher profitability and performance. Margie's forty-plus-year career as an entrepreneur and business expert has given her the experience to develop customer-centered strategies and solutions that work. These strategies have given thousands of businesses the competitive edge needed to survive and thrive. In 1985, Margie founded Shop Talk, located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and it has served as a specialized consultation and research firm concentrated in retail, hospitality, healthcare, and financial industries. Prior to Shop Talk, she had twenty-five years of entrepreneurial experience as a partner and general manager of the Galleon Esplanade Shopping Complex, the Cabana East Motel, and A Restaurant by George in Nags Head, North Carolina. Margie Johnson brings a wealth of experience to her clients. Her passion for growing businesses has positively impacted companies of all sizes from national retailers to regional financial institutions and small entrepreneurial businesses. Margie has immersed her practice in growing small businesses "one Main Street community at a time."