- By Keisha Rowe Staff Writer
The Chamber of Greater Springfield showed off Springfield’s best in business to a much bigger crowd than usual on Thursday.
The chamber opened its annual business expo to the general public this year, a first for the organization. More than 30 Springfield-area businesses participated, with specializations running from restaurants to printing companies.
Most years, attendance for the event hovers around 400 visitors but more were expected this year.
Chamber Visitor Center and Marketing Director Kelcie Webster said the expo is a way to showcase organizations who are members of the chamber and inform the public of what’s available to them.
“It’s a really great opportunity for our members to come and show what they have and all the great talent and different skills we have in Springfield, so that other members, along with the public, can get to know them,” she said.
People might be surprised by the variety of services businesses in the area have to offer, Webster said.
“There’s great talent in Springfield,” Webster said. “You have bigger groups and bigger corporations and businesses, but you also have smaller businesses as well that offer great services.”
The MacRay Co., a printing company based in Springfield, was the recipient of the Business of the Year award at last year’s annual meeting and awards ceremony. Brian Roberts, a company representative, said opening the expo to the public this year has already given him four or five new potential clients. The event offers a different method of outreach and potential, he said.
“With some of our businesses here in town, we keep growing every year,” he said. “We just have to go out here and work it enough.”
The chamber also hosted its annual meeting and awards ceremony following the expo, which featured John Fimiani, a partner at Upward Brand Interactions, as the keynote speaker.
Several businesses were honored during the event, including Dole Fresh Vegetables winning Business of the Year and Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co. honored as Restaurant/Retailer of the the Year. Meadowview Growers was also honored as the Small Business of the Year and the Springfield Foundation received a Community Impact Award.
Tony Kenney, the president of Speedway LLC, was the recipient of the Richard L. Kuss Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to the community. Kuss, who died in 2010, was president of the Bonded Oil Company — which eventually became Speedway — and had been a mentor to Kenney in his lifetime.