GENOA – More than 700 people attended the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce Home & Business Expo at Genoa-Kingston High School in Genoa on Saturday.
“It’s a wonderful way to shake off those winter blues,” said Kristie Mulso, executive director of the chamber.
A record number of 45 local businesses set up displays to showcase their products and services, and to network with one another. The event was free to the public, and this year’s expo also featured a free inflatable jumpy house for kids.
Mark Green, former running back for the Chicago Bears, signed autographs and posed for photos at the booth of ARAMARK Education, the newest member of the chamber. ARAMARK is the new meal vendor for the Genoa-Kingston school district.
Mulso said that there were no unused vendor spaces, and that the chamber’s membership has grown from 110 to 137 members in the last year.
“We have been getting quite a buzz of people wanting to come into Genoa to open a business,” Mulso said.
Carolyn Tobinson, owner of Tobinson’s Ace Hardware, has been a member of the chamber since 2000 and has participated in all five expos. The hardware store has been in Genoa since 1974.
“So many people don’t realize all the services that are in town and this gives them great exposure,” Tobinson said, noting that two state highways intersect in Genoa.
Mulso said that the event attracts people from all over DeKalb County, and from as far away as Rockford.
Amanda Whalen made a spur-of-the-moment decision to attend the expo with her family.
“We saw a sign at the corner of 72 and Annie Glidden and decided to check it out,” said Whalen, a property manager from Cortland. “It’s not what I expected but it’s nice. I have networked with a lot of business owners.”
Her son, Tyler Njos, 12, was attracted to the giveaways at many of the vendor tables.
“We got lots of goodies,” Tyler said, noting that his favorite was a flat water bottle he got from Genoa Main Street.
Mulso said the chamber encourages all vendors to have their own raffles, giveaways and promotions.