Las Vegas usually plays the role of host for businesses and industries engaging in commerce and conversation, but on June 15 local entrepreneurs, small businesses and Fortune 1000 companies all played the role of guests while attending the annual Business Expo hosted by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce.
“One of the most satisfying results the chamber produces is bringing different businesses together from across the valley,” says Cara Clarke, spokesperson for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. “Business Expo is the best chance to see the latest and greatest in our own Las Vegas business community.”
Business Expo, which was held at Cashman Center, attracted more than 2,000 attendees and 150 exhibits staged by Chamber members.
“Las Vegas is a big city but with the chamber we still feel like a small town group and we help build local business relationships that become friendships,” says Clarke. “It is a hallmark of our organization and the expo is a big part of that experience.”
The top priority for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is to give businesses both small and large an opportunity to connect with new buyers, clients or customers.
At the expo’s Procurement Lounge, companies and entrepreneurs learned the steps they need to take to secure government and military contracts, like the opportunities found on FedBizOpps.com. Representatives from both government and military agencies were in attendance.
To identify even more opportunities, representatives from the Small Business Administration were onsite meeting with expo attendees to explain services and how businesses can receive special designations. The Secretary of State’s office staff explained business licensing fees and deadlines.
“There are always new state and federal rules, regulations and resources to update both members and expo attendees,” says Clarke. “The goal is to provide information that many companies do not have access to, and show them how to use it to the benefit of their bottom line.”
AA Printing is a chamber member and an exhibitor. Owner John Pinnington uses the expo as a way to build relationships and brand exposure, not for same-day sales.
“The expo is a chance to show who you are, the strength of your brand and to market your company’s services,” says Pinnington. “It is all about timing; sometimes people do not need your services for months, or maybe even years.”
Pinnington has taken the role of being a mentor to others on the most efficient ways to communicate during the expo, even writing a guest column for the chamber magazine last year.
“Small businesses are monumental to the success of the expo,” says Clarke. “We love that these businesses get a chance to be together to showcase what products they have to offer and the experiences they can share with others.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, telecommunications giant Cox Communications is a sponsor and uses the expo to communicate new products and services. This year the company’s exhibit showcased more residential services, specifically home safety and security features more than showcasing digital cable television offerings. For business owners and senior management, they also had corporate phone systems on display with new features to increase efficiency and operations.
“We come to the expo so business people know we work with companies that have all levels of budgets,” says Juergen Barbusca, spokesperson for Cox Communications. “We also make it a live onsite environment for people to test our new products and services.”
To add further value to the expo, a new programming component was added — Chamber University Live. Chamber University is a series of more than 20 educational seminars hosted during the year, and several 30-minute live versions were held at the expo. Topics included small business lending, doing business with McCarran International Airport, dealing with the Affordable Care Act, employee retention and cybersecurity.
Chamber University also gave the chamber the opportunity to highlight its dozens of subject matter experts available as resources to members. The variety of subject matter experts who served as presenters balanced out an expo attendee and exhibitor roster that featured a lot of marketing companies and consultants.
“We want to provide a great opportunity to all of our businesses to find out the exact information they need, no matter of their industry,” says Clarke. “We have a great appreciation for all of the business our conventions and trade shows bring to Las Vegas, but we have a great deal of business outside of that, too.”
To further support the chamber efforts, a wide variety of industries come together to sponsor the expo, including NV Energy, Sunrise Hospital, Nevada Public Radio and CenturyLink. The expo is one day where competitors and peers put their market shares aside for a day for the betterment of the Las Vegas community.
“The expo will always be our place to be for making great business connections,” says Clarke. “We took our position within the community over 100 years ago and we still take our role to generate new business within local business very seriously.”