For many who attended Thursday at the Rabobank Convention Center, the Business Conference and Expo  was about new beginnings.

Take Maria Enciso, who came to the event with her husband Rigo, who started his own business, Enciso Interpreting, in 2005. Enciso helped people learn English and Spanish, but it collapsed last year as its customer base dwindled.

“He’s trying to get it started again,” she said. “We wanted to come [to the expo] to see what it’s all about and hopefully get some hints on how he can get started again and make it better.”

Angelina Navejas is also looking for a fresh start. She said she was let go as marketing manager of American Business Machines Inc. about two months ago and is looking for a new job that will enable her to make use of her Master of Business Administration degree from Azusa Pacific University.

“I’m looking for anything in business, but my background is marketing,” she said.

Navejas said she hasn’t had that much luck finding jobs so far. She said she came to the expo to make some business connections and see if any companies are hiring.

“There’s not a lot of options,” she said. “I’m kind of pigeonholed in marketing, because that’s where most of my career has been, but I’m definitely open to other parts of business such as project management and accounting.”

Navejas said she has also considered starting her own business but doesn’t have any firm plans at this time. If she did start her own business, Navejas said she would like to focus on the project management side of business.

Navejas said she attended a financial workshop at the conference that featured Mid State Development Corp. President/CEO Keith Brice and Wells Fargo senior business banking specialists Sonia Lara and Gina Ramirez.

“They all spoke really well and were very informative,” she said.

For some attendees, the expo was an opportunity to get information that will help them or others at their current job. Victoria Coffee, a job development specialist at Bakersfield College, said she came to the conference to get information that she could bring back to students.

“I wanted to get a better look into the business industry and see how we can strengthen our infrastructure for student success,” she said of the college.

Coffee said that, through the workshops the event offered, she gleaned tidbits such as how, if you take the time to look after your physical and mental well-being, you can be more productive at work.

“[The Expo] empowered me as an employee so that I can help my students be more successful,” she said.

The expo, organized by the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, included workshops on finances, health care and technology. Actress, dancer and author Nia Peeples gave the keynote and businesses sold their wares during the expo portion of the event.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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