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Business Expo breaks records
Turnout tops previous high
Sharon Hendricks and Lynda Pope chat with Linda E. May during the Annual Business Expo on Thursday. - photo by Crystal Ledford

The Annual Business Expo on Thursday was the most successful one yet, according to leaders of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

Jason Mock, director of the chamber’s Small Business Services Center, said all 65 booths that were available for businesses to purchase for the event at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center sold out quickly. In addition, the event drew its highest attendance.

“Last year we had right around 1,000 people attend and this year, that number was between 1,200 and 1,300,” he said. “So our feeling from [the] event is very positive.

“We’re getting good feedback from our attendees as well as our vendors.”

Participants covered a wide range, including financial and health services, technology, food and hospitality, attorneys, and sign and clothing companies.

One of those vendors, Shannon Stamps with Marriott Alpharetta on Windward Parkway, said this was their second expo.

“My counterpart came last year and she felt really confident about [the expo] and walked away with some really great relationships,” Stamps said.

She noted that though the hotel is just across the Fulton County line, it does a lot of business within Forsyth.

“A lot of the companies that we do business with are in Forsyth County, especially off of McFarland [Parkway] since we’re right on the line,” she said. “Being the last full-service hotel going up Ga. 400, we just like to capture more of Forsyth and partner with both north Fulton and Forsyth.”

Besides the businesses that set up booths for the expo, which began at 11:30 a.m. with a “working lunch” and went through 6 p.m. with an Expo After Hours event, members of the public could attend at no charge.

Jim DePardo, who recently moved from Illinois, said attending was a good way for him to learn more about his new community.

“I’m retired and I spend a lot of time with my grandchildren, but also I’m looking for maybe a part-time job,” he said. “I also wanted to see the different companies that are here for some services.”

Mock said those are all big parts of what makes the event so successful.

“It’s a great day for our business community to come out and showcase what they have and meet new people and hopefully make some new connections and sell some products and services,” he said.

The event is also a way for business people to reconnect.

“There are a lot of people you run into through the chamber and the community that you don’t see on a regular basis, and then come expo time, you get to reunite so it is like a little homecoming,” Mock said.

He added that the impact of the expo shows the strength of the business community.

“I think it showcases the fact that Forsyth County businesses are here to stay and doing well even in this economy and really growing, and it’s just a tribute to our community.”