BLOOMINGTON — For nearly 90 McLean County businesses and agencies, the McLean County Chamber of Commerce's Twin Cities Showcase provided the perfect opportunity to show off.
"This is about encouraging people to buy local and showing the importance of just how important that is," said Charlie Moore, president and CEO of the Chamber, during Wednesday's event at DoubleTree by Hilton. "It is the premier business-to-business trade show and allows people to showcase their products and discover some new ones."
And then, of course, there was the food. Several restaurants and catering companies offered free samples to an estimated 700 people.
"The food is awesome," said Sarah Farris of Bloomington, who visited the event. "It's almost like you need more hands just to carry everything. But it all looks so good. You just have to try everything."
Business Builders, a privately owned, full-service marketing and sales outsourcing firm, encouraged booth visitors to shop locally.
"We are encouraging people to shop here and buy here and dine here and anything they can do, think locally first," said president Jennifer McCarron. "For business owners, we are encouraging them to sign the McLean County Purchasing Resolution. It says that the McLean County economy benefits when all businesses commit to buying local; that jobs are created, our tax base is enhanced and mutual support improves our economic quality of life; and that if we purchase local goods and services, we will make a positive impact on the lives of our McLean County citizens."
Easter Seals Community President Gina Mandros said the showcase was a great event to network.
"We are finding that it's the perfect place to give help and get help," she said. "There are people who approach us and say that they would to help us and there are people that approach us and we can help them. It's a great place to build community connections."
The Bloomington Thunder hockey team set up shop to attract new fans, said Jason Muzyka from the Thunder's sales department.
"A lot of people don't really know how many of our players are going to big-time Division I colleges to play hockey," he said. "It's a nice way to explain that it's not a semi-pro league, but it's the first step to getting a great education and, hopefully, making it to the NHL one day."
Brendan O'Neill, group sales manager for the Normal Cornbelters baseball club, said fans have been anxious to learn about the upcoming season.
"It's two weeks away and people have heard about some of our promotions, such as when Pete Rose comes," he said. "There seems to be a lot of excitement and this is an opportunity to meet fans."
The showcase presents an opportunity for education, said Judy Horn of Normal, who says she hasn't been in the community very long.
"It's a wonderful way to find out about new businesses and what they might have to offer," she said.
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