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Annual Buy Local Expo to bring businesses together
Chamber of Commerce encourages more shopping in Hall County
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Buy Local Business Expo

What: Trade Show to showcase local businesses
When: Expo 1-6 p.m. and Business After Hours 4-6 p.m., Thursday
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville

Local business leaders hope Hall County commerce in 2012 begins with a bang.

They specifically hope Thursday's Buy Local Business Expo sparks what they believe will be a successful year for business in the county.

More than 70 businesses are expected to be in attendance.

Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce President Kit Dunlap expects business leaders to mingle and bring exposure to the many businesses throughout the county.

"I think it gives exposure to some 70-something and other organizations that maybe people don't know about, or maybe they have heard of them but don't know what they sell or what their service is," she said.

With commerce growing in the county, business officials are making an increased push to convince residents to shop in Hall rather than venture to areas such as Gwinnett that are known for their major shopping outlets. Those purchases made in Hall County would then benefit the county's schools, parks and other areas rather than contribute to other counties' revenues.

The third annual business expo, which will be held 1-6 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Mountains Center, allows business leaders to get acquainted with other businesses in the county and brings exposure to the various retailers.

"It's probably our largest networking event throughout the year that's just for general business," said Michelle Wiley, vice president of membership for the chamber.

"It's a great opportunity for the people in the community to see what services are offered here in Hall County and a great way for businesses to interact for business-to-business networking," she added.

Dunlap said the 70-plus businesses that are expected would be one of the largest showings the chamber has had for any business expo.

With commerce on the upswing in the county and several recently established companies, the expo will help spread business even farther, Dunlap said.

Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville was the subject of much of the county's business expansion last year, including the openings of Olive Garden and Cheddars restaurants last summer.

But other large businesses have decided to call Hall County home as well.

Last year ZF Wind Power officially opened its 250,000-square-foot headquarters and operations center in the new Gainesville Business Park. ProCare RX and Pattillo Industrial Real Estate are expected to begin construction on their new locations in the county in the near future.

"Absolutely, the future is very bright,” Dunlap said.