MERRILLVILLE | With music pumping and tables of freebies, dozens of vendors convened for the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce Best of the Northwest Expo - Improving your Health, Business and Home Starts Here event Wednesday at the Radisson Star Plaza.
The expo was the largest in years, with 61 vendors setting up displays, nearly double the amount compared to four years ago, said Kelly Dooley, co-chair of the expo committee and patient advocate with Nightingale Home Healthcare.
To increase participation, the event was tweaked, starting at a later time so more people could attend, he said.
Vendors distributed information and giveaways. Some offered interactive games to draw people to their area, with the goal of networking and spreading their business name.
Brittany Jones, senior sales manager at Radisson Star Plaza, said the expo is a good way to tell people the venue offers more than concerts and shows. It has more than 20 meeting rooms, catering to groups from five to 1,000.
Jones, who has represented the facility at previous expos, said between 40 and 50 people usually pick up information at these events, and about half call to book a meeting.
The expo featured companies from various industries, including security, health care, banking, dining and entertainment. Wayne Para, owner of Five Star DJ & Karaoke Entertainment played music and announced vendor giveaways.
Ramiro Barajas, Emilio Rodriguez and Leo Muro, barber students at Success Schools in Merrillville, had a wheel at their display that people could spin for a prize, from candy to free haircuts.
Muro said the expos are a good way to recruit students and let the community know more about the school.
Even if people attending are not be interested, they may know someone who is, Barajas said.
Carl Patz, senior commercial loan officer with Tech Credit Union in Crown Point, said the company has attended the expo for about the last five years.
"It definitely gets our name out to the community," Patz said.