Businesses get noticed at Chamber's Expo 2003

The annual Tacoma event continues to prosper and showcase the regional economy.

With the economy – hopefully – poised to make a recovery, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Expo 2003 provided area businesses a platform from which to shine.

This year’s trade show, which took place at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall on Oct. 14-15, featured 130 exhibitors, as well as seminars and the Chamber’s 120th annual meeting and breakfast.

The annual event provided a fun atmosphere where business got done. Amid the important networking connections being made and other serious endeavors, those in attendance could be seen having a good time. Acquaintances were reunited, promotional gifts were handed out and food was enjoyed.

Several vendors offered passersby the chance to sink golf balls for prizes. At the Elliot Sales Corp. booth, people could try their luck playing a slot machine. The Port of Tacoma’s setup consisted of a 20-foot cargo container sans doors that people could enter.

Patricia Mannie, membership services representative for the Chamber, said she expects this year’s event to draw about 5,000 people.

“There’s a lot of business support in this community that want to see this type of event happen,” she said.

Tacoma’s trade show, one of the biggest in the Northwest, has prospered even as other regional chamber trade shows – such as those in Seattle and Bellevue – have ceased.

The number of vendors at this year’s show was up from last year’s 128.
“It’s a very good sign,” Mannie said.

In fact, she said, vendors not set up at this year’s Expo have already contacted her about taking part in next year’s event.

A big part of the show’s success is the chance to meet and socialize with people – and inform them.

Two people who would agree with that are Diane Jordan and Evette Mason, who staffed the Port of Tacoma’s site – the aforementioned cargo container – at the Expo.

Working at the trade show offers a chance to meet nice people and tell them about how the Port of Tacoma works and participate in the community, said Mason, the port’s community relations coordinator.

“Our constituents are really Pierce County,” she said, noting most people don’t visit the Port of Tacoma, so the Expo provides a chance to get information out about the sixth largest container port in North America.

“It’s been a fair amount,” said Jordan, a port volunteer, referring to the number of people that stopped by.

“Kids really like it,” Mason noted of the 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide container that provides space for about 1,280 cubic feet of storage.

Another person who had good things to say about the exposure participating in Expo 2003 brings was Darrell Johnson, president of the Business Student Ambassadors at the University of Washington Tacoma.

He described traffic to his booth as moderate, saying he had talked with a number of prospective students and parents of prospective students.
The expanding campus was a big selling point to a lot of people.

“It brings to campus a little bit different student,” he said. “I think students enjoy the constantly changing environment.”

One thing Chamber officials hope won’t change is the continued success of the annual Expo.

The Chamber is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, Mannie noted.

“We must be doing something right.”

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