Thirty businesses and more than 200 professionals from the metro area attended the inaugural Southwestern Illinois Business Expo.
The inaugural day-long event was Wednesday at the Gateway Center. Richard Avdoian, president of the Edwardsville-based Midwest Business Institute, partnered with monthly business magazine Small Business Monthly to organize the event. Avdoian said he was pleased with the turn out and hopes the expo will become a regularly reoccurring event.
“What I’m really happy to see is the number of local, Southwestern Illinois businesses that really want to have the opportunity to expose their businesses to other business owners in Southwestern Illinois,” Avdoian said.
The numerous booths included financial planners and advisers, a bottled water company, an auto and glass repair business and a custom T-shirt screen printer. Participants also had access to 12 different free seminars that featured business professionals, who were also members from the National Speakers Association.
Tim Mahnesmith, a financial advisor from Edward Jones in Edwardsville, said the expo offered him a chance to meet other business people in the metro-east.
“Not only to get some exposure in the community, but also get out and meet small businesses in the community,” Mahnesmith said.
Abra Auto Body & Glass also participated in the expo. Account executive Vanessa Kessinger said the company opened its first metro-east location about three years ago, and as a relatively newer company in the area. She said the expo helped introduce Abra to others in the region.
“It’s mainly the exposure and networking,” Kessinger said. “We’re trying to get our company name out there.”
As a local banker, Terri Lowrance said she was interested in the expo to meet other small business owners in the area within a single venue. As the Vice President of Treasury Management at First Cloverleaf Bank in Edwardsville, she spoke with individual business owners to learn more about their financial needs and goals.
“They’re definitely very friendly and open about what their businesses have to offer,” Lowrance said. “It’s a chance to network and also a chance to take a look at all of the different businesses that are here to see how they are basically marketing their business.”
Avdoian said he modeled the expo after a similar one that he helped create in St. Charles, Mo., that has been held twice a year for the past decade.
“My goal is for my company, along with the Small Business Monthly, to get two shows in Illinois, hopefully in February and August of each year, and also offering small business owners the opportunity to hear from business experts from different disciplines to help them grow their business by providing them free seminars and to help them take their business to the next level.”
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2526.