Small businesses' products and services to be displayed at fair

Sunday, October 7, 2007 | 4:28 p.m. CDT; updated 7:21 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

COLUMBIA — Missouri Employers Mutual and the Columbia Chamber of Commerce are inviting the public to learn about products and services available from local businesses at the second annual Micro Business Fair and Reception on Tuesday.

The Chamber of Commerce developed the fair as a forum for small business owners to display their services and promote their businesses while networking with the public and other business owners. The fair will highlight more than 65 of Columbia’s small businesses.

“The fair was designed to allow microbusinesses a chance to network and promote themselves in a trade show environment,” said Andrea Jira, the Chamber’s membership director.

Micro businesses are classified as having 10 or fewer employees. Of the Chamber of Commerce’s 1,700 members, 80 percent are smaller businesses, Jira said.

Owners of small businesses “have difficulty being away from their offices,” said Amy Henderson, office manager at Communications Center Inc. and co-chairwoman of the Chamber of Commerce’s small-business committee. “Having this organized event lets us get out, be visible and network.”

Participating business owners see the fair as a great opportunity to show the public what they have to offer, said Brian Slind, co-owner of University Avenue Bed and Breakfast.

Slind exhibited at last year’s fair and said he would return this year.

“The reason I’m going back to the fair is because of all the new contacts I made during last year’s fair,” Slind said. “It really surprised me last year when people said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know there is a bed and breakfast in Columbia.’”

The bed and breakfast opened in 1995, and Brian and his wife, Kathy, bought the business in December 2005.

“I think it’s important to recognize and promote our smaller businesses,” Jira said. “They have a lot to offer.”

The fair, which is open from 3 to 7 p.m., is free to the public and will be held at the Stoney Creek Inn, 2601 S. Providence Road. Drawings for door prizes will be held throughout the afternoon. A networking reception will begin at 5 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres from Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken and a cash bar.

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