Business expo March 7 at Davidson College will feature more than 180 firms, organizations
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Saturday, Mar. 01, 2014

Business expo March 7 at Davidson College will feature more than 180 firms, organizations

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    Susan Medlin
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    - Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce
  • Want to go?

    The Lake Norman Business Expo will be held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 7 at the Davidson College Belk Arena-Baker Sports Complex. Admission is free. For information and a full list of attendees: www.lakenormanchamber.org.

More than 180 Lake Norman businesses and organizations will show and tell their stories March 7 at the Lake Norman Business Expo, at the Davidson College Belk Arena-Baker Sports Complex.

What began as 25 businesses under a tent as a part of a lake festival 12 years ago, has grown to a business networking event of its own that draws 2,000 to 2,500 attendees each year, filling 40,000 square feet at Davidson College.

Lake Norman Chamber President Bill Russell said he is not surprised at the growth. “You get in front of potential businesses and customers. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase and to tell your story. Businesses come back year after year for the networking,” Russell said.

Expo participants include a large cross section of the area businesses. Larger businesses such as Novant and Carolina Healthcare systems return year after year, and new businesses will make their debut at the show. Russell said this year a Lake Norman wine company that has not yet opened its doors will be at the event. Service, retail, and hospitality as well as nonprofits are represented at the show. Exhibitors are not limited to chamber members, although most of them are members.

Denis Bilodeau, president of Cornelius-based Aquesta Insurance, has been involved in the show for the past seven years. He said he continues to come because of the open feel, entertainment and the well-organized setup that brings in great foot traffic. “As an insurance agency, our model is to meet people face to face. We are part of a community bank, so the community focus of the expo helps us connect with potential new clients in a personal way,” said Bilodeau.

Cool Breeze Cyclery in Mooresville plans to have a booth at the event with several bicycles on display. Each year they also do a free giveaway of a bicycle or helmet. “It puts the awareness that we are here; many people don’t know that there is a bike shop in Mooresville,” said Mike Bryd, the store’s marketing manager. “Most people may not be looking for a bike, per se, but we make great connections that help attract new customers to the store.”

The bike store is a small business that has continued to see steady, consistent growth, even despite the economic downturn and a location change from downtown Mooresville to its current location off Interstate 77’s Exit 33. He said that involvement in chamber events such as the expo has been valuable for business growth.

Susan A. Medlin, of Vintage Marketing in Cornelius, helps several clients participate in the show and said the expo allows businesses to reach people in a way they wouldn’t be able to through radio, print and direct marketing. “It allows them to interact one and one, to listen to challenges and answer questions they have.”

She also said that being a one-day event works well because it decreases the amount of staffing required for the event, and it forces attendance during a consolidated time frame.

Medlin works with both well-established and new entities in the Lake Norman community. She said the expo helps both in different ways. Of one of her clients she said, “McIntosh Law firm has been in the community for 17 years, but people don’t necessarily know the full set of services that the firm offers. ... The expo allows them to show the full breadth of products and services they offer.”

Vintage Marketing has also helped Chiquita and River Run Country College with the launch of the Chiquita Golf Classic, which will hold its second tournament in September. “Most people at the expo have no idea there is a golf tournament in our own backyard,” said Medlin.

In addition to businesses, some younger spectators will also be at the event this year. Marketing education students at N.F. Woods Advanced Technology and Arts Center and Mooresville Senior High School will attend. About 65 students, representing classes from marketing to entrepreneurship, will be mingling with vendors, finding out what it takes to host an event on this scale, and bringing back findings for assignments in class according to marketing program advisor Sherry Montero.

Adrienne Babbitt is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Adrienne? Email her at observerfreelancewriter@gmail.com.

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