From the Desk of a Diva: Gaining the Edge Event Recap

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Last month Gaining the Edge hosted its first business conference at the Municipal Center in Baker, Louisiana. The free event focused on four major sectors of business, human resources, finance, marketing, and legal.

Speakers included the following:

Welcome- LaTania Anderson

Opening- Isaiah Marshall


Damon Gardner– Cumulus Media
Tre Gradnigo– Marketing Director at Hotfax Services
Mike Wilson– Nola Media Group
Yalandra McClain– Author & Entrepreneur at YSM Consulting



Harold Williams– 1st Team Realty

Patrick Bell– Assistant Commission Office of the Commissioner LA Department of Insurance

Kiyana G. Patton – Commercial Supervisor, Commercial Division, Louisiana Secretary of State



Joseph Hollins– Louisiana Workforce Commission


Financial-Access to Capitol

Dannielle Smith– Budgeting2Banking

Kasey Sanders– CEO of Counting Countess Bookkeeping

Peter Mars– Iron Horse Financial

Stephanie Ross Toombs– Keller Williams


Originally slated to be series of four consecutive panel, the event took a turn and the panelists instead gave mini presentations sharing nuggets from their years of experience and expertise. I found these three tidbits of information to be most interesting.

  1. While I have heard of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) before, I never saw how it could be beneficial to me, but Joseph Hollins of the Louisiana Workforce Commission explained that employers can receive tax credits (an amount of money that can be offset against a tax liability), for hiring within certain groups such as convicted felons, those with disabilities, and/ or recipients of TANF (Temporary Assistance For Needy Families).

How is this beneficial to you as a business owner?

For those of us looking for ways to uplift our community, starting with those closest to us, these credits could be used as an opportunity to hire someone we know trying to get on their feet or in need of a second chance at life. The credits can also be stacked, meaning you could possibly hire a disabled person who receives TANF and the credits would added for a bigger amount.

  1. The second tip I discovered was from a story Patrick Bell of the Louisiana Department of Insurance shared about a church who started out really small, so they initially they insured their building for a small amount. Over the year, the church grew and they began to add on to the building. They did not think to increase their insurance as their assets grew. Fortunately, Mr. Bell was able to warn them of this issue before anything bad occurred.

How is this beneficial to you as a business owner?

As your assets grow, your insurance should increase to cover any potential loss. You can stay abreast of these things by maintaining a good relationship with your insurance agent.

  1. Stefanie Ross Toombs, was one of the realtors who spoke at the GTE conference, because she specializes more so in residential property, her presentation also included some tips for homebuyers. Toombs shared that at the time of the event, credit scores as low as 580 were being approved for buyers.

How is this beneficial to you as a business owner?

Most small business owners know the balancing act of business and personal can get hectic. Sometimes pushing us to prioritize one over the other and deal with the consequences later. With that being said, credit can be an issue until everything balances out, but now might be the time to consider the housing market. For those interested in real estate property, this could be an opportune time for you as well.

“While I had my own vison for Gaining the Edge, I wanted to leave room for the event and brand to grow, and AGBY Lifestyle assisted with the creativity in that area. This event showed me the importance of that decision, as we had a sudden change of plans, but still were able to provide business owners with resources and watch connections be made. It was certainly a learning experience for us and a great opportunity for the city of Baker, who has lost some of its businesses due to the flood last year,” Isaiah Marshall, CEO of Gaining the Edge, shared.

Gaining the Edge was sponsored by Sable Soft Tech Technologies which is a leading developer of seamless IT solutions that are integrated together to achieve technology goals. They offer end to end services backed by world class domain specialists, processes and tools to support the technology needs across industries. They help their clients accomplish exceptional performance over the business challenges through effective IT expertise, creative design, integration of technology, process improvement, operations, etc. Their sole aim is to give your business greater agility, enable customer engagement, faster time to market, and lower cost. Sable Soft Tech works to exceed their customer’s expectations.

AGBY Lifestyle assisted with the planning and organizing of the event. The next Gaining the Edge conference is scheduled for September 21, 2017 again at the Baker Municipal Center.



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Written by 

Fancy is the Founder/Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of SwagHer Magazine. She attended Southern University A&M College as a mass comm major with a focus in PR. As a mother of 3, she resides in Baton Rouge, LA. She loves business, branding, Black people/culture/men, simple beauty.