Maurice Ashley, international chess grandmaster, will be the keynote speaker for the 8th Annual Small Business Summit later this month. While here, he will take on an opponent while blindfolded.

Maurice Ashley, the first African-American international chess grandmaster, will be the keynote speaker for the 8th Annual Small Business Summit to be held here Tuesday, Oct. 29, from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Warren County Armory Civic Center. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.

“This is a guy that did it. He is a huge success,” said Stacy Woodhouse, Warren County Economic Development director.

Woodhouse applied for the $5,000 NC IDEA grant responsible for securing Ashley as the speaker for the Summit, which includes a dinner.

In addition to Ashley giving the keynote address and conducting a question and answer session, Woodhouse said the championship coach, tournament organizer, iPhone app designer and puzzle inventor would play an NC Works representative in a game of chess while blindfolded.

Ashley will also visit a local school prior to the evening’s Summit.

“Having someone of his caliber here will be great for our kids,” Woodhouse said. “He’s an example of what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it.”

According to his online bio, Ashley was raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and Brooklyn, N.Y., and has traveled extensively as a spokesman of how chess builds character and can benefit at-risk youth. He has spread his message of living one’s dream to groups around the world.

Ashley was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 2016.

Hosting the Small Business Summit and having a speaker like Maurice Ashley is also a recruitment tool, Woodhouse said. 

“It’s a chance to say to people, ‘Come experience Warren County,’” he said.

The Summit program will also include a brief introduction to the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program by Thom Ruhe, president and CEO of NC IDEA, a private foundation with a mission to maximize the economic potential of the people of North Carolina by supporting the formation and fruition of high-growth entrepreneurial endeavors in the state. 

The Small Business Summit is a partnership between Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center, the Chamber of Commerce of Warren County, the Warren County Economic Development Commission, and the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center.

The Summit is open to anyone who wishes to attend, including entrepreneurs of all ages, small business owners and potential owners, nonprofit leaders, and chess enthusiasts. Attendance is limited to the first 300 to register.

The cost is $10 per person, and scholarships are available. To register, go online to warrencountync.tix.com. The registration deadline is Oct. 24.

The Warren County Armory Civic Center is at 501 US Hwy. 158 business east, Warrenton.

For more information contact Peggy Richardson, Warren County Economic Development Commission, at 252-257-3114 or peggyrichardson@warrencountync.gov.