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Local businesses promote services

SCHUYLER COUNTY—It’s all about networking. Participants and visitors at “Showcase,” the fourth annual Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce business expo April 28 at the Moose Lodge in Montour Falls were there to publicize what they offer to the community and each other. Part advertising, part job fair, the event attracted a cross-section of the community from students interested in learning about local business opportunities to job seekers to community members who were simply wondering why all the cars were in the Moose Lodge lot in mid-afternoon.
With approximately 20 businesses from the region participating, Rebekah LaMoreaux, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Chamber, said the event has grown marginally over the years, and might have grown at a faster pace if the date and location hadn’t been changed several times in its history. “The purpose of the expo is to give businesses the opportunity to show off their programs and services, what they can offer to consumers as well as to other businesses,” she says.
While a few attendees seemed most interested in scooping up hors d’oeuvres and promotional materials, each business took a turn at the microphone to describe their scope of offerings—and their colleagues were clearly listening. Often, the speaker stepped off the podium to find him or herself in demand back at the display area, where another business person was closely studying examples of their work.
Many of the businesses and organizations are not based in Schuyler County but belong to the Chamber of Commerce and do business here, which Chamber officials says emphasizes the attractiveness of our region as a magnet for businesses.
“It helps our name recognition,” said Jeanne Eschbach, representing Corning Community College. She was promoting their academic program “More After 4,” an accelerated course program for working adults. She said she wanted to connect with businesses because in some instances, staff who are hoping for promotion need more training or to upgrade their work skills. In the first two hours, she talked with about 40 people.
At the next booth down were disability advocates from the Corning-based Center for Disability Rights, Inc., a nonprofit organization which began working in the Schuyler County area at the request of its consumers. One of the issues this group addresses is the need for home-based care for the elderly and disabled. During a lull they talked with Eschbach. “We train home health aides, and they might hire them,” Eschbach said, sounding pleased at this connection.
Representatives of Hunt Engineering and Welliver McGuire studied each others’ displays, revisiting projects they worked on together.
Jill Breedlove of Pembroke Pines Media Group was a little surprised to find that most of the people stopping at her booth were asking about job openings rather than for more information about their radio stations. “And we do have an opening in sales,” she added.
Miranda O. Polmanteer, the Chamber’s Director of Tourism and Marketing, says she attended this sort of event when she was younger. “It’s positive networking for a college student or high school senior,” she says. “Students are able to see businesses that are hiring, or meet contacts they can later hand a resume to. We strongly believe in keeping talent here.”
Hal Lambert of WETM, the media sponsor for this event, called the event a success. “The biggest value for the chamber and the community is promoting the awareness of the Chamber of Commerce in the community,” he said. “We’re definitely doing it next year, too.”
While attendance was lighter than hoped for, “All the businesses said they’d found great leads and one person found an employee for a job,” said LaMoreaux. “The event did what we intended it to do, and we’ll definitely do it again.”

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