Regional Chamber draws crows for 2009 Open for Business Expo

About 80 local businesses showed potential customers what they have to offer at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 Open for Business Expo.

Lori Mattson, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said attendance seemed good, although it appeared to be down from the 750 attendees last year.  Business owners and managers new to the expo didn’t notice the drop.

“I think it was pretty good,” said Joe Coyne, Heartland Payment Systems territory manager. “I’ve met a number of people and found some business opportunities. That was the point of the event, said Mattson.

“Business owners and the general public could walk around and meet business owners, learn about what businesses are in the Tri-Cities and make connections,” she said.

LeMaster Daniels kept visitors coming by its booth with a ‘grab cash bubble’ filled with $1 bills. Expo attendees could hop into the bubble and had 30 seconds to grab as much cash as they could.

“It’s brought a lot of people over,” said Patty Oliveria, LeMaster Daniels office manager, who has attended three of the events. “It seems to be going just as well as in the past,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of people we know and a lot of new people. Its always fun to meet new businesses.”

Many booths had door prizes ad elaborate decorations, but none was as visible as Gesa Credit Union.

Gesa’s two spaces were decorated in a jungle theme, with shrieking monkeys, paper palm trees, employees in safari gear and a spinning prize wheel. “This is a lot of fun.” said James Delyea, branch operations vice president. “We’re celebrating.” Gesa launched Venture, a new banking service for small business owners, at the expo.

“This is a really visible way to appeal to the people who should be doing business with us,” Delyea. “People are shying away from a lot of banks….and it’s become harder to get credit. So businesses today have been very receptive.”

Whether this was the first trip or just the most recent, many attendees said they get their money’s worth from the expo.

“When you pick things you go to, you’ve really got to make sure you chose well. I think this was a good pick,” Coyne said.

Attending businesses included large, like Kadlec Regional Medical Center and CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., to the small businesses.



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