Dozens of businesses are expected to pack The Clayton Center on May 21 for an afternoon of networking during the 19th annual Clayton Business and Community Expo.
The free event will take place from 3-7 p.m. Last year’s show saw about 500 visitors and organizers expect that number to double this time around.
The Clayton Center can hold approximately 40 vendors and rental space is still available, according to Mary Beth Roberti, with the town’s Chamber of Commerce. Previously held at Clayton High School on a Saturday and offering child-friendly activities, the chamber revamped the event two years ago to focus solely on area businesses.
Roberti said what makes the show such a success is the visibility it provides for local businesses. Unlike the chamber’s other main event, the annual fall Harvest Festival, the Clayton Business and Community Expo highlights local merchants in a more intimate setting.
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“It’s especially beneficial for small business owners because they are given the opportunity to get their names and faces out there,” explained Roberti. “This will really give them a chance to shine.”
One local business already on the roster is Festejos Mexican Bar and Grill, who won over attendees last year with samples of their homemade guacamole and chips. It was the first year tastings were offered and due to the enthusiastic response, will be incorporated into this year’s plan.
“There was a line at their booth,” Roberti said. “This year we’ll offer more tastings from a variety of your local favorite restaurants.”
She said the 2012 event sold out quickly with some businesses having to be waitlisted. Registration opened a few weeks ago to last year’s participants and is now available to all interested businesses. Forms and more information are available at claytonchamber.com.
The cost of table rental will include lunch and an opportunity to attend a private presentation of “How to Attract Buying Clients from Social Media” by motivational speaker Deidre Hughey.
At 5:30 p.m., the expo will morph into the Chamber’s quarterly Night of Networking event.
“This is new for this year,” explained Roberti. “It will allow time for businesses people who weren’t able to attend the expo during its normal hours to still be able to come in and network with our vendors.”
Businesses from across Johnston County are expected to participate. The expo is open to the public.