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Business expo links people, resources

November 13, 1998

Quad State Business ExpoBy KERRY LYNN FRALEY / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




Tim Hann arrived map in hand at the Quad State Business Exposition Thursday morning.

His first time at the 14-year-old event, Hann had marked the booths he planned to scout with a yellow highlighter.

They covered a range of his needs, from computer equipment and cellular phone plans to volunteers and interns, said Hann, coordinator for the nonprofit Western Maryland Conservation and Development Council.

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"From what I've seen, it's really great. I'm surprised there aren't more people there," he said.

At least 900 people attended the free event, sponsored by six Tri-State area chambers of commerce, according to event chairwoman Ann Marie Brigido.

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The booths were arranged differently from last year, the first year the expo was staged at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center (ARCC) rather than the Ramada Inn Convention Center on Dual Highway.

Last year, the huge room seemed cavernous with 85 exhibitor booths, Brigido said.

This year, the expo area was set off by blue and white draped panels in the center of the room and divided by more panels setting off a seminar area and an area set up banquet-room style for the International Trade Reception.

Organizers worked with a company to design the improved floor plan, which led attendees on a natural path past all 75 exhibitor booths, Brigido said.

The original design called for 72 booths, but was reconfigured to accommodate three additional exhibitors who asked to be fit in after the original slots sold out, she said.

Participants this year included area businesses, nonprofit agencies and governmental entities.

This was the first year free seminars, led by area business leaders, were offered throughout the day, Brigido said.

It was the second year the expo included the International Trade Exposition, designed to link area business people with the resources to expand their sales to foreign markets.

Many state and federal agencies offer assistance, including help with developing a business plan, aid in obtaining loans and introductions between company representatives and contacts from the targeted country, said Brigido, chairwoman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's International Trade Council.

Among the speakers scheduled for the reception and a pre-reception seminar were U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., Michael Keaveny, director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center, and James Hughes, director of the Maryland Department of Economic Development's Office of International Business.

Representatives from the embassies of Japan, Lithuania and Romania attended.

While some area business people were fostering global marketing opportunities, David Herson was drumming up business closer to home for his Martinsburg, W.Va.-based company, Xcess.

The company, which designs, builds, installs and dismantles portable, modular and customer exhibits, already has an international client base, said Herson, who moved his company's headquarters to Martinsburg in June 1997.

Until recently, the company hasn't focused on the local market, he said.

Setting up at the expo was proving a good way to get the word out about the company and its products, Herson said.

On a field trip with their "Introduction to Business" class from Hagerstown Business College, Tandi Christophel and Sarah McCammon said they were learning a lot as they strolled from booth to booth.

"I think it's pretty good. There's a lot of information," said Christophel, 16, of Greencastle, Pa.

She and McCammon, 18, of Greencastle, said they were introduced to many area businesses they never knew existed

The expo was sponsored by the chambers of commerce of Hagerstown-Washington County; Greater Chambersburg, Pa.; Greater Waynesboro, Pa; Greencastle-Antrim Township, Pa.; Mercersburg, Pa., area; and Martinsburg-Berkeley County, W.Va.

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