Chamber to host annual business expo, dinner

As many as 350 attendees are expected to file into the Clark State Performing Arts Center Thursday to learn more about local companies and update the region’s business achievements over the past year.

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce will host its annual dinner and business expo beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday. The event will begin with an annual business expo at the PAC, then continue with a dinner and annual chamber meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts & Conference Center.

Both events are annual highlights, allowing local business owners to make new contacts and honor area companies that have made a difference in the community, said Chris Schutte, director of marketing for the chamber.

This year, almost 40 exhibitors are expected to showcase they services they provide at the business expo.

“We have found that to be one of the best networking opportunities we can offer our membership,” Schutte said.

Guests will also be encouraged to visit as many booths as possible, and will receive a punch card to enter a drawing for a $500 Speedway gift card, Schutte said. Particularly for newer businesses, the expo is a good chance to make new contacts with potential customers and other area firms, Schutte said.

LWS Tax Service, in Springfield, has attended the expo for several years, said Maria Blake, marketing director for the company. LWS offers accounting and payroll services for businesses, as well as tax services for area residents. The company tries to have creative displays, and will offer a photo booth this year, she said.

“It’s just an enjoyable event to take a break and get to know the businesses you work with and just have a good time really,” Blake said.

After the expo, much of the crowd will move on to Hollenbeck Bayley for dinner and an awards ceremony. Mark Lautman, an author and economic expert, will serve as the guest speaker. Lautman is well-respected in his industry and is an expert on issues like workforce and economic development, Schutte said.

Chamber officials will also discuss major projects completed over the last year, and honor local business leaders.

Bob Warren, president of Hauck Brothers Heating and Cooling, will receive this year’s Richard L. Kuss Lifetime Achievement Award.

Retired U.S. Sen. Dave Hobson will be named a Big Dreamer honoree. The award includes a nine-foot banner that will hang in the chamber offices, and has also recognized former residents such as Asa Bushnell, A.B. Graham and John Legend.

Chamber officials will also name the small business, business, ambassador and safety leader of the year at the dinner, Schutte said.

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