Expand Your Network at Today's 2013 Business & Wellness Expo

Barbara Kieker

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

On Thursday, October 17, local business leaders will be able to connect at the 19th annual Business and Wellness Expo presented by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce and its sponsors – Azalea Health, 1st America Health Group, Air Methods and ValdostaCEO. The expo will be held at the Rainwater Conference Center from 5 to 7 p.m.

"The expo is the largest business-to-business showcase in the area," said Myrna Ballard, president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.

"In the past, we've had as many as 750 attendees and about 100 vendors exhibiting at the expo. It's a great opportunity to meet prospective clients and strengthen relationships with existing clients."

The expo was first held in 1994 before there was a conference center in Valdosta. According to Ballard, the first Chamber-sponsored expo was held in the Civic Center or, more specifically, the livestock pavilion. It attracted about 25 vendors.

The opening of the conference center in 2000 was a sea change in the event. Vendors responded to the new setting with more professional exhibits and the venue attracted more attendees.

"We've had great feedback from our participants that the expo is a real winner for their businesses," Ballard said.

From Tabletops to Trade Show
Joyce Aigen, MAS, owner of JL Concepts, came up with the original idea for a business expo more than 20 years ago. She encouraged the Chamber to include tabletop displays at their Business After Hours events before the expo was launched.

"I'm from New York and we did business-to-business trade shows there. I think it's important to meet people and see what they do by having their products on a table," Aigen said.

"I've seen this grow from tabletops to a full-fledged business-to-business trade show at the conference center. And it's led to other trade shows like the bridal show and homebuilders show."

JL Concepts provides promotional products that can be imprinted with a company's name and contact information. The items can be used as employee incentives, thank-you gifts or promotional pieces.

Growing Confidence
According to Ballard, the strength of the expo in terms of number of exhibitors and attendees is a good measure of the current strength of the local economy. Based on vendor response so far to the 2013 Business and Wellness Expo, Ballard believes the economy is improving.

"We're seeing a growing sense of confidence from business leaders about the future," Ballard said. "The expo is a great opportunity for businesses to grow by branching out and partnering with other businesses."

More information on the 2013 Business and Wellness Expo is available at valdostachamber.com/2013-business-and-wellness-expo.