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Companies showcase services at expo
Business event promotes buying locally
Zack Tumlin, left, a producer with Turner Wood & Smith Insurance, talks Thursday with Shane Taylor, owner of Highland Mountain Beverage Services, during the annual Buy Local Expo at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

After a prolonged stretch of tough economic conditions, it seems to be a consensus that bright days of business are just around the corner.

That positivity filled the Georgia Mountains Center on Thursday as more than 70 businesses packed the building to display their services to the community for the annual Buy Local Business Expo, as well as to interact with other business owners.

"I think the outlook is pretty good," said Jody Spain, co-owner of Cotton Eyed Joe's, a custom printing and embroidery business in Gainesville. "We have weathered through some tough times, but we're solid, we're here. We have business and we're expanding."

Whether discussing strategy or having conversations about the economic outlook, business leaders had one thing on the mind: expanding their own businesses and commerce in Hall County.

The expo featured well-known businesses such as McDonald's, as well as up and coming businesses such as Turbo Truck Center.

The full-service tractor-trailer facility in Gainesville has been operating for about six years, but tire sales representative Chris Smith said, "... A lot of people don't even know we exist."

But every year since being in business, Turbo Truck Center has grown. The company expects that trend to continue as the economy continues to climb out of the gutter.

"It's going to grow and it's not going to go away," said sales representative Robbin Dorminey of the company's future.

Other growing companies also displayed their products and services at the expo. If there's an industry for it, most likely a business to represent it was in attendance.

"We came here because we thought we would get some good local exposure," said Larry Becker of Montara Farm of Clermont, a business that hosts team-building retreats, as well as providing a wedding venue.

"Overall, I think that there are a lot of companies, including ours, that many people don't know about because we don't necessarily have the advertising dollars that some other places have and this is a very reasonable way to get your name out," he added.

As a business looking to gain more exposure, Becker said all signs point to expansion of economic conditions in the county and therefore increased revenues for the private estate.

"I think this county is already showing some rebound from the recession," he said. "All of us that are doing business in this county will do well because we will all be able to feed off each other."

Becker said reaching out to other businesses in the county leads to increased commerce. By doing business with other companies in the county, Becker hopes those businesses will return the favor.

In order to gain the desired exposure, businesses relied on consumers to attend the expo as well.

Hugh Bond of Gainesville found the expo to be an opportunity to stay informed of the latest businesses in the county. He also said he believed business is on the upswing and that he purchased products in the county as much as possible.

"Hopefully things are picking up a little bit — slowly, but sure," he said. "We try to buy local whenever we can because we live in this community and try to keep the money here."

Business leaders from the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce expect 2012 to be a big year for county commerce and that begins with persuading residents to make purchases within the county.

"I think, if nothing else, it will give us community awareness to let people know we're here ... and we have good quality people in this area," said Spain.

"There's no need to go online or outside the area. We have good folks here that can do quality work," he added.

One of the largest sectors affected by the downturn was the building industry. Businesses relying on a steady flow of building were also affected.

While some businesses stayed afloat, they did not experience the success they previously had, but that could be changing, said Kenny Reichman of King Green, a lawn care and termite and pest control company.

"It's been a tough economy for everybody, but we're still hanging in there and we're growing a little bit," Reichman said. "It used to be houses going up was a big angle for us to grow. That went away, but now they're starting to do a little bit more and we are encouraged by that."


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