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Event showcases businesses
'A lot of positive feedback' on expo
Biz WEB 1
Melvin Garmon, left, talks with Lisa Landers at her booth Tuesday during the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s Business Showcase at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center. - photo by Autumn Vetter

A new event was deemed a success by leaders of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

Jimmy Lane, director of member services, said the inaugural Business Showcase, which was held Tuesday night at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, likely will be held again.

“Especially with planning something new and different, and the first one [being planned] in under three weeks, we had a lot of positive feedback,” Lane said. “People were excited to at least do this once a year in the early spring to kind of get things kicked off.

“We’ll do our big Business Expo in the August time frame and maybe this will be our February thing that we do.”

According to Lane, the showcase filled up fast, with all 48 booths sold in about three days.

“We were expecting to keep registration open until the 14th and we shut it down on the sixth, I think it was,” Lane said.

Besides the businesses, the event also drew nearly 200 spectators.

“The best I could count, we had between 175 and 200, and that was based on business cards that we got,” he said. “Not everybody of course gave one or they didn’t have one on them or whatever it may be, but we were between that 175 and 200 mark.”

The first-time event was held in lieu of the chamber’s monthly Business After Hours, which are at different business locations.

Business After Hours events typically are held on the second Thursday of each month. This month, that would have been Valentine’s Day.

Instead, the chamber decided to try the Business Showcase concept, which offered businesses the chance to buy a table for just $100.

Lane said the concept was a cross between Business After Hours and the Business Expo, in which businesses can purchase larger booth space for $500.

“It’s not a traditional Business After Hours and it’s not a traditional Business After Hours, it’s a combo,” he said. “It’s something different.”

He said the lower cost allowed “a different type of company” than those that may take part in either of the other formats.

“You’ll have some overlap with the expo at $500 a table, but you’re going to get a lot of people who maybe haven’t participated in anything all year and are going to participate in this,” he said.

One of those new participants was TK Wolfe with Audiology HEARS PC in Cumming.

She wanted to spread the message of her business, which helps protect and improve hearing.

“I figured a lot of businesses would be here and that some of them might be industrial and we really want to protect your hearing before you lose it, so I’ve been going around and talking to people … about protecting their employees’ hearing,” Wolfe said.

Trish Moynihan, owner of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts and More, an active chamber member, said she was pleased with the event.

“It’s a great way to network with not only the other business owners, but also with the attendees and get some new customers,” she said. “Just looking around the room, I see a lot of people that I haven’t met yet, so I’m hoping to be able to go around the room and introduce myself.”

Joy Riddle, branch manager of Community & Southern Bank, said the gathering seemed to draw a wide range of businesses.

“Right now I’m just looking around. There’s a lot of good representation here, a lot of new businesses,” she said. “Even though we’ve lived here all our lives, it’s great to meet the new people.”

Bruce Longmore, owner Lenny’s Shop who also serves on the chamber’s Small Business Advisory Council, said he was pleased to try something different.  

“I expect it to be a good event for us,” he said. “This is a brand new concept that we’ve never tried before so we’re excited to see how it goes.”

Longmore noted that the conference center was a good venue.

“It’s nice to be back over here every once in a while because some of the facilities we go to [for Business After Hours] aren’t really great for 200 of your best friends to show up. This place is fantastic for that. It’s just made for this kind of stuff.”

He also noted that the pricing probably encouraged some of the new businesses to take part.

“People can make a $100-decision all day long, but a $400- or $500-decision is different, so absolutely the price of this is a big deal.”

The event made an impression on Wolfe, with the hearing office.

“This is the first chamber event that I’ve been to,” she said. “It’s a great way to network and let people know, ‘Hey, we’re here.’”