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Chamber hoping to draw big crowd to expo

Staff members at the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce are hoping that bringing their annual dinner and business expo back together will help draw big crowds.

Both events are annual highlights for the chamber, allowing area business owners to make new contacts and to recognize business owners who have made a significant contribution to the community, said Chris Schutte, director of marketing for the chamber.

The expo will draw more than 30 exhibitors, from service industries to manufacturing firms. In the past, the two events have been split up, but Schutte said combining them likely will create more energy and interaction for both events.

Attendance remained strong even when the programs were separate, Schutte said, but the events seemed more important when they were combined into a single day.

“I think we lost a little of that last year,” Schutte said.

The expo is a good opportunity to meet with potential customers and mingle with other businesses, said Ken Coleman, an account manager for Sheehan Brothers Vending.

“We just get a lot of exposure,” Coleman said of the expo. “People say they look forward to our booth because we go all out every year.”

The expo has been a big draw for the chamber in the past, attracting as many as 400 attendees, Schutte said. He described it as one of the largest expos of its kind in the region, and noted there are few events where 400 people can go to network and socialize.

After the expo, which will be held at the Clark State Performing Arts Center, attendees will move to the Hollenbeck Bayley Center for the chamber’s annual meeting. There, the chamber will announce its business of the year awards and review its accomplishments over the past year.

The keynote speaker this year will be Scott Monroe, co-founder and chief branding officer of Thirty-One Gifts. The company, which makes and distributes personalized gift items, employs about 330 workers in Springfield.

“We’re looking forward to Scott,” Schutte said. “We think he’s going to be a great speaker.”

Monroe will discuss the company’s history and its role in Clark County.

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