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Expo expected to boost businesses

Annual event adds new features

POSTED: August 10, 2012 7:00 a.m.
Autumn Vetter/

John Schmitz of USA Payroll prepares for the upcoming business expo. Many businesses have signed up for the event which will be held by the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 16 at Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

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Businesses of every size and type will fill the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center on Aug. 16 as the local chamber of commerce presents its annual Business Expo.

John Schmitz, president of USA Payroll, will be among the nearly 80 businesses with booths at the event.

He said his company, which has been in Cumming since 2005, has participated for about five years.

“The expo provides us a great forum to meet other local businesses,” Schmitz said. “It’s been very beneficial … it’s a good source for new businesses and I think it’s important to stay active in the community and the chamber’s [expo] is certainly a good way to do that.”

Becky Brown, president of North Georgia Accounting Consultants Inc., agreed.

She’s been attending the expo for about three years.

“It definitely gives you exposure and gets your name out there,” she said.

“Even if we get just one client out of it, it pays for itself. Some businesses might not be able to say that … but it’s certainly worth it for us.”

Jason Mock, director of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Services Center, said there’s still room for other businesses that may want to take part.

“Right now things are going really well,” he said. “We have 58 out of 77 booths sold, so we still have some booths available.

“We’d like to know by the end of this week or the first of next week [if businesses would like to purchase a booth], but there’s still time for businesses to take advantage of that.”

Booths cost $600 for chamber members and $700 for non-members.

This will be the second year for the expo to be held at the conference center, something Brown said she’s pleased with.

“There was a lot of traffic last year and I hope there’ll be more this year,” she said. “I really like the location at Lanier Tech … I think it’s a lot more spread out.”

Another new offering that Brown said she’s pleased with is free admittance for attendees.

“I think more people will come,” Brown said. “For the guests, I think that’ll get more people in the door.”

Mock said this is the first year the chamber has offered free attendance for those who register in advance.

“We had set that to expire on Aug. 9,” Mock said. “But now we’ve extended it out. We just want everyone to pre-register online since that helps us with logistics.

“That was something we looked at from other expos around the area … and we really feel our goal is to get individuals into the expo so that vendors can talk to those guys. When you put a charge on it, that sometimes eliminates a handful of folks, but we want it to be an open door for our vendors so they can have access to as many people as possible.”

Another new feature this year, is a “working lunch” sponsored by Alpharetta-based NCR Silver, which will be discussing technology solutions for small businesses.

Christian Nahas, small business team vice president for the company, said he and others chose the expo as a way to introduce themselves to others.

“We wanted to test our message to an audience of small business owners, so we decided to work with the chamber and we decided Forsyth County fit the demographic that we wanted before we took this kind of nationwide, chamber by chamber,” Nahas said.

Mock said he’s happy the company has joined with the chamber to provide the free meal and information.

“The working lunch is a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s probably the only time the chamber offers a free working lunch for anybody, member or nonmember, so we definitely encourage everybody to take advantage of that.”

Attendees are asked to sign up online for the lunch, Mock said.

The expo will also offer attendees a range of workshops throughout the day, and from 5 to 7 p.m., the chamber’s monthly Business After Hours networking event will take place.

“We’re bringing that back from last year,” Mock said. “That was requested by many of our members, so we’ll have an Expo After Hours cocktail hour starting at 5 p.m.”

He hopes this year’s expo will be one of the most successful in the event’s history.

“I think we’ll have a good mixture of vendors and businesses participating this year … from your small guys to your big guys,” he said.

“It gives businesses a chance to connect with one another, but also allows our community to come out and see our businesses and see who’s out there locally and who they could potentially do business with.”

Schmitz is happy to take part.

“It is a great way to establish the business, keep the company name out there, and get to know other local businesses,” he said. “Even in today’s economic environment, Cumming’s growing and Forsyth County’s growing, so this is the best way, once a year, to really get out there and stay active.”

 

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