SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Mayor’s Small Business Conference returned to Savannah Thursday.

The theme for the event was business unusual. Highlighting the unknown that for many local merchants, has become the new normal.

“So the theme for today was business unusual, and I think we have to recognize that the world we are going into is going to look slightly different, and in some ways very different from what it was around three years ago. That creates some difficulties but it also creates some great opportunities,” explained Manny Dominguez, Senior Director of the city’s Economic Development Department.

Some of the most common challenges include issues with staffing, reconnecting with old customers, and difficulties with the supply chain and inflation.

“All those things create opportunities. There are gaps in the market that never existed before, that are out there and so if you take anything away from today, is it’s going to be business unusual and sometimes that’s okay, and you just sort of have to adapt and use your entrepreneurial skills to capitalize on it,” Dominguez said.

The event also highlighted the challenges that are present for many minority and women-owned businesses.

Still, WSAV spoke to one young entrepreneur who says attending the conference was an invaluable experience.

“I’m really happy to be here because it makes me happy to see other people my color to have other businesses, small businesses. So if I have a small business as well, it makes me fit in right well,” said 10-year-old Zechariah AldoRay Atiba, the owner of Dawgz For All & More. “I never experienced anything like that before, and I wanna be the best person I can be so in the future I don’t have to worry about anything.”

Officials at the event say the city has committed funds from the American Rescue Plan Act that will be put towards adding resources for local small businesses in the coming months.