For the first time ever, the Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition Luncheon will feature a keynote speaker. This speaker is Iola Harper, Deputy Commerce Director for the Office of Economic Opportunity of Philadelphia.
Iola Harper is a nationally-recognized, award-winning advocate for small businesses and urban neighborhoods. She has spent well over two decades working diligently with minority and women-owned firms and economic development agencies across the Delaware Valley, helping them gain access to needed financial, technical, and contract opportunity. The small business and economic development agencies that she has worked with are too numerous to name, but her work and efforts have benefited thousands of small business locally and regionally. In 2016 she began work as the Deputy Director of Commerce for the city of Philadelphia. In this role she runs the Office of Economic Opportunity. This job involves ensuring that people of color, women and disabled-owned firms have equal access to city, quasi-city and some private sector contracts. Iola looks at this as an opportunity to open the door for businesses that she helped prepare to walk through. Her success working with not only small businesses but in urban neighborhoods garnered the attention of former Governor of PA when she was named one of Pennsylvania’s top 50 Women in Business. Her work drew a national spotlight several years ago when she was honored by the Small Business Administration as one of the Nation’s top small business advocates and when she was named one of Philadelphia’s most influential women by the NAACP.
Come and hear from Iola and get inspired by our three finalist entrepreneurs on November 1 . Click here to register.