Conference to help home-based businesses

Published 2:07 pm Tuesday, January 21, 2020

UPDATE: This event has been postponed due to COVID-19. Keep an eye on the Yorktown Independent for more details.

Earlier: When most people think about economic development, home-based businesses may not be exactly what come to mind. But they’re a priority in York County, and several area localities are sponsoring a fifth annual conference geared toward these business owners.

In York County, two-thirds of business licenses are for home-based businesses, said Melissa Davidson, assistant director of the York County Office of Economic Development. When the county realized that several years ago, they started this conference, which has grown each year.

“It’s a great event, and we’re really excited that we’re regional now,” Davidson said. James City, Gloucester, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson and Williamsburg have all jumped on board, as have the local Chambers of Commerce.

Davidson said many people have a misconception of home-based businesses as mostly direct sales, but that’s no longer the case. Home-based businesses run the gamut from patent holders looking to market their products to artists, service providers like attorneys and accountants, and more.

“You have a lot of professional services that can be done from home now,” she said. “A lot of companies don’t need that brick and mortar anymore.”

Nationwide, there are more than 15.7 million home-based businesses, and more than half of all small businesses are home-based.

Davidson said the Great Recession more than 10 years ago forced a lot of businesses that previously had a location to become home-based. The rising costs of doing business throughout the years have continued to push many businesses to become or stay home-based, and technological advances have made doing so easy.

In addition, many entrepreneurs are home-based so that they can more easily care for children or parents at home, Davidson said.

“You have people who used to have a storefront and they brought it home, and it’s doing really well for them,” Davidson said.

Last year’s conference brought in 174 attendees, and it has grown each year, so Davidson expects at least 200 this year.

She said there will be a heavy focus on marketing this year, as previous attendees have said that is an area where they need help.

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 20 at the Peninsula Workforce Development Center, 600 Butler Farm Road in Hampton. It will feature breakout tracks, resources from more than 20 exhibitors, breakfast and lunch, and more. Attendees can have a professional headshot taken for just $25. Comedian Allison Moore will provide the opening keynote, and Shanna Kabatznick will provide the lunch keynote.

Registration is $40 or $35 for Chamber members. Find more information at