Business expo set for this week

DULUTH - Last year, Andrea Moore's booth at the BIG Expo and Job Fair had cookies.

This year her company, Office Creations, is taking it up a notch with petit fours (a small cake cut from pound or sponge cake and frosted, just in case you didn't know).

"You have to have a catch or they'll just breeze by," Moore said of the event's visitors.

But once the bait is laid out and they get a bite, Moore said it isn't hard to reel new clients in.

"These people are looking for interesting people or interesting companies or they wouldn't be there," she said.

The Business in Gwinnett Expo, sponsored by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Access Payment Solutions and the Gwinnett Daily Post, will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday at The Convention Center at Gwinnett Center.

It is the largest chamber-sponsored business-to-business trade show of its kind in Georgia, with 256 exhibitors expected this year, said Demming Bass, vice president of marketing and public policy for the chamber. Bass also said the event has had close to 5,000 attendees each of the past two years.

"The biggest reason for any businessperson or any consumer of business product to attend is this is your one opportunity for one-stop shopping to compare products and services," Bass said. "It makes it very convenient."

Bass said companies with booths at the event will generate 20 to 30 solid leads on average.

Moore said her company has generated about 30 leads at each of the event's first two years. How hard would it be to generate that many leads in a single day without being at the expo?

"Very hard," Moore said. "Next to impossible, really."

In 2005, one of those leads led to Joy Mitchell, Moore's business partner, having her biggest sale ever. It's also led to a lot of repeat customers for Office Creations.

In addition to business-to-business contact, the BIG Expo will offer a chance for job seekers to meet potential employers. Bass said about 60 companies with booths at the expo are hiring.

The chamber also works hard to lineup numerous activities throughout the day to keep expo visitors coming in. Bass said the chamber tries to get high profile speakers for the expo's luncheon (last year it was Sen. Johnny Isakson and this year it's Sen. Saxby Chambliss).

The expo also has numerous seminars throughout the day and a business fashion show to keep things entertaining. This year's fashion show is sponsored by the PGA Superstore and will feature golf attire.

"I think what makes this expo different from others is it has high-quality businesses, but it's also fun," Bass said. "It's not some old, stale business expo."

SideBar: Schedule of events

Events and times:

Expo booths open 1 to 7 p.m.

Job fair booths open 1 to 5 p.m.

"Modern Day Marketing" seminar by Weathers Studios, 1:30 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.

"How to Prevent Rapid Growth from Destroying Your Successful Business - Tales from a Business Lawyer" seminar by McKenzie Law Associates, 1:30 to 3:20 p.m.

"Why People Really Buy" seminar by ActionCoach, 2:30 to 3:20 p.m.

"Getting the Capital Your Business Needs" seminar by University of Georgia Small Business Development, 2:30 to 3:20 p.m.

Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce third annual Business Fashion Show, 3 to 3:30 p.m.

"Establishing a Worker's Compensation Program for the New and the Seasoned Employer" seminar by Academy Orthopedics, 3:30 to 4:20 p.m.

"Networking to Grow Your Business" by The Growth Coach, 3:30 to 4:20 p.m.

"Resume Preparation and Conducting the Job Search" seminar by Horizon Software International, 4:30 to 5:20 p.m.

Business After Hours with live jazz music, food and drinks, 5 to 7 p.m.