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Crowds see what expo is all about
Chamber event lets businesses connect
Susie Meacham, left, talks with Debbie Booth on Thursday during the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. - photo by Autumn Vetter

An annual business event was deemed a success.

The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce held its Business Expo on Thursday at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

Jason Mock, director of the chamber’s Small Business Services Center, said it drew a good crowd of both business vendors and spectators.

“It went really well,” he said. “Our vendors seemed pleased, and it seemed like there was a lot of networking going on throughout the day.”

Mock said 62 businesses bought booth space at the event, which began at 11:30 a.m. with a working lunch and continued through 7 p.m. with an Expo After Hours event.

Jackie Johnson was one of the vendors with a booth. A representative of the Forsyth County Family YMCA, she said the expo helped her share the organization’s message.

“[YMCA] is an example of something that’s kind of like a hidden jewel in Forsyth County that a lot of people don’t really know about, so I think this [expo] gives me an opportunity to show that,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of nice folks and seen a lot of folks that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Gail Lancaster of Gracemont Assisted Living & Memory Care had several reasons for taking part.

“We wanted the opportunity to share with the community and the business community, with all the vendors and all the visitors, all of the exciting news about … our community at Gracemont,” she said. “We also wanted to learn about other businesses and how we can all work together to better the lives of people in this area.”

Kelly Sloan offered visitors an interactive way to learn about Georgia United Credit Union.

“We’re running our money machine, so that’s bringing lots of people over,” she said of the booth in which people stood and tried to grab flying fake dollar bills.

“It’s fun. People can go in it and try to catch as many bucks as they can and then cash it out and get some real cash to walk away with to buy themselves lunch or dinner.”

While Johnson didn’t offer any games at her booth, she did have plenty of information for visitors.

“There’s been a lot of people … that didn’t know we were here and that we have a lot of opportunities with sports, after-school and seniors,” she said.

“We’ve had a few golfers that said, ‘Oh, you’re having a golf tournament, this is awesome.’ It’s been very good.”

Lancaster said the expo helped her learn more about other area businesses.

“I’ve made some excellent contacts,” she said. “There are quite a few services that I think will benefit my residents and that’s very important to me.”

In addition to connections made between vendors, Mock said expo attendees helped create many more.

The day began with about 300 people attending a free working lunch, a new addition to the expo this year. Others attended three classes that were offered throughout the day.

“We had another 800 or so come through the doors that afternoon,” Mock said. “So I think we had right under 1,000 and what was what we were hoping for.”

He added that the free admission, which was a new feature this year, likely helped increase attendance.

“We’re blessed to live in Forsyth County and have the businesses that we have here,” he said. “But people are still mindful of what’s going on around the country with the economy and so once we dropped that fee, it opened it up to the general public and helped attendance.

“The biggest thing that caught my eye was that we had a lot of non-chamber members attend the expo, and so that’s a good sign. The community came out to see these businesses and to see what the expo was all about.”