Kevin Green/News-Journal Photo
Jack Bynum, sales manager for Scooter Central, visits Tuesday with Celia Taylor, center, and Becky Goodwin, both of Longview, during the Business Expo at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center in Longview.
If the East Texas economy has been in the tank then Tuesday's showing at the Longview Partnership's 13th annual Business Expo was evidence local business is on the rebound, sponsors said
"We've been completely sold out of booth space for more than a month," said Stephanie Phillips Stoddard, chairman of the annual event showcasing local business operators. Stoddard said she has been involved in the Business Expo for several years.
"We have 29 new exhibitors and 64 in all," Stoddard said.
The Business Expo filled half of Longview's Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center with vendors and several hundred visitors networking and picking up literature and free marketing items.
Robert Brown, one of the owners of Inhouse Associates, said the firm has been participating about six years. He said the fact so many new vendors were on hand is a positive sign.
"There are lots of new faces out here, and that's good," Brown said.
Besides having a full house of exhibitors, Stoddard said the visitors she talked to seemed interested in networking and getting useful information.
"There seems to be more emphasis on business-to-business contacts," she said. "Everyone just seems more serious."
The Business Expo followed an awards lunch attended by about 300 people, including graduates of the 2008-09 class of Leadership Longview, who were recognized. Among the awards presented were:
- 2009 Small Business of the Year: Network Communications, accepted by Linda Martin, director of customer relations;
- 2009 Entrepreneurs of the Year: Innhouse Associates and founders Robert Brown, Jason Houser and Steve Gordon;
- 2009 Tourism Partner of the Year: Cindy Smith, director of sales for Hampton Inns.