A new business association has formed in Oro Valley, with monthly meetings, long networking time, small tables and big, legible name tags.
The Oro Valley Business Club is sponsored by the Service Corps of Retired Executives, the federal Small Business Administration program that provides mentors for people interested in business.
Its first no-host lunch meeting was held March 9 at Carrabba's Italian Grill, and 47 people attended.
"It was just excellent," said Hank Jepsen, the Oro Valley retiree and SCORE volunteer who is arranging for meetings the second Tuesday of each month starting at 11 a.m.
"The first hour is to get acquainted, to network," Jepsen said. "At noon, we eat, and get into the meeting part about 12:25. They should be out by 10 after 1."
SCORE volunteers such as Jepsen, Phil Kiraly and John O'Shea serve as hosts, hooking people up in conversation.
"It is all about business, your business," Jepsen said. "I really think it's a good idea, but like anything else, it's 'put it together'."
He envisions the business club as "giving a platform for not only the business person to network and build his business," but also for "the community people, the elected officials, the department heads," Jepsen said.
Each month, the group invites people from government and education to give "a 3-4-minute update, not bloviating," Jepsen said. Mary Davis of the Town of Oro Valley, Glen Shepherd of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy and Sen. Al Melvin spoke at the inaugural meeting.
"It's an opportunity to talk to them, to meet them and to get acquainted," Jepsen said.
Additionally, a representative of a spotlighted Oro Valley business may speak, or a business expert may discuss business strategies or trends. Social media, and their relative merits, were discussed at the opener by Bill Nordbrock of Referral Tree Business Generation Group and Len Elder of Coursecreators.
SCORE mentorship helps people find a foothold in the world of business.
"Nobody every accused me of being an executive," said Jepsen. "I was a peddler. I get to tell people what they should do, not what I did."
Cost of membership in the Oro Valley Business Club is $25 a year. Each lunch is $15.
The club hopes to create the first Oro Valley Business Festival this summer.
For more information, contact Hank Jepsen at 818-2761, Phil Kiraly at 797-7803, or go to scoretucson.com.
The Oro Valley Business Club meets next at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 13, at Carrabba's Italian Grill, 7635 N. Oracle Road. Meeting and greeting runs through noon, with lunch at that time.