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Expo allows local businesses to showcase themselves

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The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce has the ultimate business networking event marked on its calendar for Tuesday, Oct. 19. On that day it hosts its 36th annual Business Expo at the Oxford Civic Center from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

“We had to miss last year because of COVID,” Chamber executive director Linda Hearn said. “Our membership and our businesses told us they very much wanted it to return this year.”

Just as the pandemic has affected most all plans, it required some adjustments for the 2021 version of the annual event.

“We moved our venue to Oxford because it has higher ceilings and a more airy space,” explained expo committee member and former Chamber chairman Greg Kernion. “We wanted to make sure it was a space where everyone might feel comfortable. Masks and hand sanitizers will also be made available to help make everyone feel safe.”

There will be 70 businesses with which to get comfortable and learn more about at the Expo, and perhaps even do some business.

“After dealing with the pandemic, it is more important than ever that our local businesses have a showcase opportunity such as the Business Expo provides,” Hearn said. “We will have businesses ranging from promotional materials to financial services to health care with booths that will relate all the necessary information about those businesses and the goods and services they offer.”

The Expo will serve not only to give a taste of what local businesses offer, it will also give a taste of some of the local dining opportunities available in the area.

“We realized having this on a weekday would mean many having to come during lunch breaks or after work,” Kernion said. “Seven restaurants will be on hand to provide a ‘mini-Taste of Calhoun’ from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and the Chamber will host a special edition of its ‘Business After Hours’ from 4 until 7 p.m. where those restaurants will again be available to serve their specialties.”

Kernion, himself a local business owner as CEO of New Leaf Marketing Alabama, said the business of the day will be augmented with some fun and games.

“We plan on having two couches set up where teams can play each other in the classic game of ‘Pictionary,’” he said. “This will all take place in a hall decorated with a festive theme to give the Expo a light-hearted atmosphere. It should be a fun time for all who pop in during the day.”

Hearn said although the day is designed for “business-to-business” connections, the public is also invited to attend.

“The Chamber’s focus is to assure those businesses who have chosen Calhoun County as home are given all the help they need to grow and be successful,” she said. “It might be surprising to many the goods and services they might need or want are available right here in their own backyard. It is for that reason this Business Expo was created and has continued for more than three decades.”