The lobby of downtown Albany’s Hilton Garden Inn was once again buzzing with activity as hundreds of visitors learned about local businesses at the annual Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.
The expo has become increasingly popular since chamber leadership brought the event back and started hosting it each year, and this year was no exception. More than 50 vendors rented booth space in order to show potential customers what their business had to offer clientele.
Several of the vendors, including CTSI Inc., Pfizer, Southern Point Staffing, Deerfield Windsor School, Albany Technical College and others, make it a point to attend the expo as a way to connect with other chamber member businesses, customers and the community in general.
“We come to the expo every year basically because it gives us exposure to other businesses that may or may not know us, or may or may not know about all the services we offer,” said Dennis Moore of Bishop Clean Care Inc. “And it also allows us to see them and what services we might need.
“And then, of course, it’s an opportunity for newer businesses to be recognized in the community. Take Invision for example. They bought Atlantic Tel-Com, which was a big contributor to the community, and now they’ve got Atlantic Tel-com’s business, their business and ADT security systems. So I didn’t know that until they called me about a bid. It’s a big community business event.”
Invision Technologies is also a repeat vendor that set up a display for the second year in a row, based on its past expo experience.
“It’s a network opportunity for us,” said Invision co-owner Jay Carpenter. “The expo allows us to get out there and talk with people and other businesses about what they do and what we do. It’s a great event.”
The popularity of the expo was not lost on first-time businesses as well, many of which were eager to take part in the event despite having plenty of “regular” work that needed to be done. One such business was Crown Networking, whose Kyle Boyd was at the hotel and convention center to set up early Thursday morning.
“This is our first time here and I’m super excited,” said Boyd. “I’ve always wanted to do this. We feel it’s a vital part of our business to be seen.”
Despite having a full plate of projects lined up, including work for one of the tech company’s newest clients, the Randolph County School System, Boyd said it was imperative to be at the expo to network and let other companies know what Crown Networking has to offer.
“We want to let businesses know that the tech they need is in Albany and that we can provide it,” Boyd said. “We can meet business needs and help those business grow. We’ve got big hearts and big goals to help these companies. If Albany is prosperous, then we’re all prosperous.”
The business expo is also an exciting event for the community as a whole and for patrons that weren’t able to get a booth at the event, such as Horizons Community Solutions, formerly the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia.
“I come every year religiously because it is an excellent opportunity for our organization to learn about local businesses, number one, so we can support them because we are a local business, and so we can let them know about opportunities to support a local nonprofit organization,” said Horizons Executive Director Diane Fletcher. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I look at when it is and I work my calendar around it every year.”Fletcher also had high praise for the chamber and the other sponsors’ efforts to make it a great event, saying, “They do an excellent job.”
That kind of reaction from the business community is indicative of what the chamber hopes to achieve with the event, as chamber leadership believes the expo is at the heart of the organization’s mission to support local businesses and help them grow.
“These types of events serve a great purpose for chamber membership and we work to almost act as an extension of them in terms of promoting their businesses,” said Chamber President Barbara Rivera Holmes. “This really gives an opportunity for people throughout the community to come and learn about the services and products that are made locally or available locally. That’s a pretty big thing when you think about how much the economy improves when we spend more of our dollars at home. This really provides the knowledge base for people to be able to do that.”
Courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Brad McEwen