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Expo focuses on buying local, staying ‘green’

POSTED: February 21, 2014 1:31 a.m.

Area business and organization representatives mingled and residents browsed booths at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Buy Local Safe and Green Expo on Thursday at the Gainesville Civic Center.

“I think it’s important to support local businesses,” said Jane Davenport of Gainesville, holding giveaways and munching popcorn she picked up on her swing through the expo.

“And the turnout (looks) good. I was wondering what it would be like since the (Feb. 11 postponement),” Davenport said.

Last week’s winter storm forced the chamber to reschedule the free event, which is designed to provide “networking opportunities” for businesses and others but also to show what area groups are doing to protect the environment.

Some 70 booths filled the center’s Grand Ballroom and adjacent Chattahoochee Room.

“This is a great opportunity to show what we have locally, from small to very large businesses,” said Kit Dunlap, chamber president and CEO. “It’s quite a mix.”

The expo used to be two separate events — one focusing on businesses and what they do, and the other on companies’ environmentally friendly practices.

“Green is in, so every business ... and certainly the large industries” are concerned about conserving energy, Dunlap said.

The event featured workshops on how to reduce home and business energy use, protecting and increasing green space, and marketing tips “on how to create an extravaganza” at trade shows and networking events.

Rick Foote, EnviroShare coordinator for Hall County, was an energy workshop presenter.

“We had a small group, but it was quality over quantity,” he said.

There were exhibitors clearly concerned with the environment, such as Keep Hall Beautiful.

But others, such as Gainesville’s Halski Systems, an information technology “help desk” company, also strive to be environmentally friendly.

“Everything’s in the cloud,” business specialist Ahna Still said, referring to Internet-based computing.

And everything is digital — no film processing or chemicals — at Gainesville’s Magic Craft Studio.

Travis Massey, the studio’s owner, said he wanted to set up a booth at the expo to mingle with other businesses, “but hopefully customers will come in, too.”

“I’ve already met some people who say they need some portrait work done,” he said.

One of those stopping by Massey’s booth was Mary Kidd of Dahlonega, who read about the event in the newspaper.

“I would have hated to miss this (event),” she said. “I had a particular interest in some of the businesses I saw.”

So how does an organization not peddling wares, such as The Arts Council in Gainesville, fit into such an event?

“So many people don’t know we exist,” executive director Gladys Wyant said. “We’re still a secret. We’re always getting new people in town and they have no idea about the arts activities this community supports.

“I’m not selling directly, but I’m letting people know what they can experience.”


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