Country Awards & Trophy Center has been in business on Staten Island for more than three decades. 

But with stiff competition from online retailers, they're always looking for ways to stand out.  

"Cause the Internet prices always seem to be lower," said Lizabeth Philpott, who is the store manager.  

The company was one of more than 100 vendors at the 18th Annual Staten Island Economic Development Corporation Business Conference at the Hilton in Bloomfield. 

Raymond Laursen and Lizabeth Philpott say they signed up to network with other businesses and promote their brand.

"It leads to a lot of word of mouth advertising, which I still think is very important today," said Laursen, who is the owner. 

The annual conference brings entrepreneurs together to boost the local economy.  

They attend seminars on topics like security and digital marketing. 

"We also had a session on neighborhood development, we're doing a lot of work in the communities for local business owners and helping them revitalize their commercial strip," said Gina Gutman, who is the Senior Vice President at SIEDC. 

City Comptroller Scott Stringer was a key note speaker at the conference.  Stringer says it's especially important to host events like this one when nearly half of all new small businesses close within their first five years.

"At the end of the day we've gotta cut the red tape for these small businesses, so many of these businesses get fined and feed and high taxes, we want to make sure that they can make it in this city," said Stringer. 

Although Laursen and Philpott's business has lasted since 1984 , they say conferences like this one go a long way.

They walked away with 25 business cards, all potential customers to keep their shop going strong.