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Chamber to debut new event
Showcase provides affordable option
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Forsyth County News

Businesses are invited to take part in a first-time showcase event later this month.

From 4:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 19, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce will hold its inaugural Business Showcase.

Jimmy Lane, the chamber’s director of membership services, said the showcase, which is set for the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, will be held in lieu of the chamber’s monthly Business After Hours networking event.

“We said, ‘OK, February’s a weird month [since] the typical Business After Hours would fall on Valentine’s Day,’” Lane said. “So we said, ‘Hey, let’s rent out the conference center at some point during the week after.”

The timing of Valentine’s Day made for the ideal opportunity to introduce the showcase.

“It’s not a Business After Hours; it’s not an expo,” Lane said. “It’s kind of a hybrid, but a lower budget one because we’re not doing electricity or anything like that [in the vendor booths].

“It’s going to have a feel of both. We’re going to have food, we’re going to have beverages. People are going to check in at the door like they do at a Business After Hours, but when they go into the room … we’re going to have 6-foot tables with table clothes.”

Lane said chamber member businesses can purchase one of those tables for $100 and “set up whatever promotional materials they want.”

Lane said the Business Showcase idea came about as a way for members to have a more affordable option to spotlight their businesses.

“We do a very upscale Business Expo in the August/September time frame … some people have expressed, ‘Hey we can’t do that,’ or ‘We really can’t afford it,” said Lane, noting that other businesses may want to hold one of the monthly Business After Hours networking events but aren’t able.

“Like the one-man handyman who’s working out of his basement, he’d love to do a Business After Hours and get a hundred and something people to see his business. But he doesn’t have the location or the funds once you think about [providing] adult beverages and food and everything.”

So far, response to the Business Showcase has been positive, with more than half of the nearly 60 available tables sold. Any business interested in participating should act fast, Lane said. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

He’s also hoping for good spectator attendance. Entry will be $5 for chamber members and $30 for nonmembers.

“The crowd that normally comes to Business After Hours, we want them to come to this and then hopefully we’ll get some more faces that we don’t normally see who’ll want to come and check out something new,” he said.