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Amanda J. Billings
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This Story is provided by The Herald Times

Business Expo all about contacts

By Marcela Creps, 331-4375 |
April 18, 2008

Local businesses revved up for a chance to make new connections at this year’s Business Expo.

For business owners, the Expo allows them access to 3,000 attendees who may not know what their particular business does. Using a racing theme, the Bloomington Monroe County Convention Center was decked out with checkered flags Thursday, with many businesses using the theme in their booths.

expo 08 @ ivy tech
Karen Little grabs for play money swirling around her Thursday in the Old National Bank booth at Business Expo. She got $400 in 15 seconds. The annual Business Expo at the convention center attracts several thousand people viewing displays by Bloomington-area businesses and groups. David Snodgress | Herald-Times
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For Irwin Union Bank, the company’s theme for the year was in line with the Expo theme, said Jim Gray, vice president and senior commercial lender for the bank. “This year our theme at the bank was ‘Accelerate 08,’” Gray said.

Because of the similar themes, Gray had had an easy time when it came to decorating the booth. He said they brought along the bank’s “Accelerate 08” tent cards and handed out race day survival packs. The giveaway contained a rain poncho, sunscreen and ear plugs, neatly packaged inside a plastic race car.

But even if the theme didn’t match, people were ready to talk business.

At the YMCA booth, Erika Albert demonstrated a gravity machine, a new and popular addition to the Y’s exercise options. Albert demonstrated how the machine works and allowed people to try it out.

“We have five of them at the Y,” Albert said. “We do classes five days a week.”

For some booths, there were games. At Markey’s, attendees could race cars with the winner receiving a foam can holder. At Old National, fake money was blown around an enclosed booth and the person was to grab as much money as possible. The person with the highest total would get to come back later to grab for real dollars.

For TLS, the Expo gave them an opportunity to spread the word about their technology services company. Phil Luzius, vice president for TLS, offered people a chance to win an iPod while learning more about what services the company offers.

“Our big focus was we just want name recognition in Bloomington,” Luzius said. “We’re really excited about what can happen after this.”

Beth Fisher has just started Basket Monkey, which offers customized gift baskets. At the Expo, Fisher had a number of baskets on display, many using local products.

This is my first day in this business,” Fisher said.