EATON — The Preble County Business Expo provided local businesses an opportunity to spread awareness of their services and network with their customers. The annual event was held at the Preble County Fairgrounds Friday, April 7, through Saturday, April 8.
The event brought a wide variety of businesses, nonprofits, service groups, and local organizations all seeking to get the word out about their businesses. According to Preble County Development Partnership Economic Development Director Brenda Latanza, that is the draw of this Expo.
“As far as the Partnership is concerned,” she said. “This helps a lot of our businesses get the word out to the community about what it is that they have.”
The Preble County Development Partnership, Inc. (PCDP) was formed to address important growth and development issues. They are dedicated to creating jobs and opportunities for those in Preble County. They want the county to continue to have economic growth.
Latanza added, “This event is good for Preble County, because a lot of businesses get to display what their products or services are and you get to network with people and give them a one-on-one understanding of what it is that you do. It is good for our office, because we want people to understand what the PCDP is and what we do. We want to show them that there are good things happening right here in Preble County.”
This was an opportunity for businesses to advertise their business and garner more traffic to their stores. Habitat for Humanity took advantage of the space to show what a customer might find in their ReStore. Board member Jane Marshall said, “We have a mission in building houses, but we also have a mission in keeping stuff out of the landfill.”
They chose to set up their booth with items from their store. Items included an old cupboard that had been covered in chalk paint so a young family could use it, antiques, and other reused items.
They also had a “win a bird house” drawing which featured bird houses made out of unconventional materials.
On their decision to have a booth at the Expo, Marshall said, “We want to share with the people of Preble County about Habitat. We have had a store front for four or five years and people are starting to learn about Habitat and what we do, building houses for people. The other thing is to show people why they should stop in at the store.”
The Habitat for Humanity ReStore also has volunteer opportunities they were hoping to advertise — they also are planning to build (or rehab) a house next year and are looking for volunteers for the project. If interested, call 937-472-0002.
Dave Kirsch with SVG Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram Truck in Eaton took the opportunity to have the company shoot a commercial while they were there. He said, “We’re here, primarily, for the residents of Preble County to come and visit us and be able to look and see what we have to offer our community.”
Jamie Beneke with Safari Junction brought some of his animals to the Business Expo, including a lemur named Jazz who sat on his lap for attendees to gawk at.
Safari Junction is located at 2961 U.S. 127 South. There you can find 27 species of animals, from lemurs to camels. Beneke has also owned and operated Valley Exotics Zoo since 2008, a “mobile zoo” that travels to events and institutions for education purposes. He said, “We decided two years ago to bring something permanent to Preble County residents.”
Beneke said he came out to the Expo to introduce to the residents of Preble County what Safari Junction has to offer. He added, “We do some animal encounters, that’s why [the lemur] is here today, he’s trained to be around people.”
He added, kids do not usually see lemurs, but they know them from movies, so Jazz was a hit.
This is actually his third year at the Expo. He said he comes back every year to interact with the community. “I like running into people that I grew up with, that I know and don’t get to see. I really enjoy getting to see Preble County residents,” he said.
He added, “The Chamber of Commerce did a very nice job putting together the Expo this year. The Chamber itself is just a great group of people. If an area business is not a member of the Chamber, they really need to be. There’s a lot of benefits to the membership.”
Expo Grand Sponsors included Preble County Development Partnership, Preble County Safety Council, Reid Health, and Wallace Heating & Air. Expo Sponsors included Boone’s Power Equipment, Inc., Brubaker Grain & Chemical, Inc., Eagle Fence & Construction, Inc., Fidelity Health Care, Kettering Health Network-Preble Co. Medical Ct., Koenig Equipment, Inc., Larkin Cobb Chevrolet Buick GMC, Lawn Plus, LLC., Quaker Trace Tractor, Inc., Summit Chiropractic, and SVG Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck. Event Sponsors included GMT Roofing and Fitzwater Tree & Lawn Care/Preble County Power Equipment & Rental.
Food vendors this year included Buckeye Jakes and Bratt Tasties, and Kemo’s.
A total count for visitors who came through the Expo during its two-day run was unavailable at press time.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH