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A Fair of Opportunity: Chamber expo to focus on workforce opportunity

Additional changes are possible

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It’s all about exploration at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual business expo, subsequently themed Expo: Explore 2017. It’s a fitting title, too, because this year’s event puts greater emphasis on seeking out jobs.

About 140 exhibitors will showcase their wares and their workplace opportunities Nov. 2 at the Springfield Expo Center, 635 St. Louis St. And a new addition to the longstanding daylong expo event is an afternoon Opportunity Fair.

“There is a need in the workforce for skilled labor to be placed locally,” said Kristin Lochner, the chamber’s manager of programs and special events.

Lochner said, in the past, the expo focused on technology, accompanied by a “career fair.”

This year, however, the event emphasizes carving out opportunities in the workplace with the Opportunity Fair.

“We changed the name to show inclusion for people looking to further their education as well as seek job connections,” Lochner said.

Alex Greiwe, workforce development coordinator for the Springfield chamber, said the Opportunity Fair will cater to individuals with a variety of goals.

“That might be people seeking full or part-time employment, a student seeking an internship, or someone looking to elevate their skill level with additional education, training or certifications,” Greiwe said.

Participating companies are encouraged to not only talk about opening positions, but also educational and professional development opportunities offered – such as Tuition Assistance Programs, Greiwe said.

Because many career fairs are held on-campus at local universities, Lochner said the Expo and Opportunity Fair provide chances for participation to a broader group of professionals.

“There’s a lot of energy and focus from the business community right now to connect with and retain talent in our area. This event is designed to facilitate that in a flexible and comfortable way,” Greiwe said.

More changes might be in store for the expo.

After about 25 years running, Lochner said it’s possible this is the expo’s last year in its current format. In the future, the event is likely to be condensed into an afternoon of networking. Lochner said there is not an estimated date when the decision to implement potential changes would be made.

The expo also was revamped in 2013 to an abbreviated format. Instead of lasting until 8 p.m., it concluded at 2 p.m. Also, the event began to include smaller tabletop booth displays.

According to Springfield Business Journal reporting, the number of vendors participating in the expo has remained relatively steady for the last five years.

2017 Business Expo Vendors
The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual business expo is slated 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Springfield Exposition Center. This year’s theme is “Expo: Explore 2017,” so get a lay of the land here and discover what businesses you’ll meet at the event.

BOOTHS:
• Abou Ben Adhem Temple, Shrine Mosque
• ACIS Computers LLC
• Aire-Master of America Inc.       
• All Comm Technologies
• American National Insurance Company
• Anchor Fence Corp.
• Andy B’s
• Assemblies of God Credit Union
• BancorpSouth Insurance Services Inc.
• Better Business Bureau
• Bigfish Screenprinting LLC
• BKD LLP
• Butler Rosenbury & Partners LLP
• Camden on the Lake
• Collegiate Awards
• Colton’s Steak House & Grill
• Commerce Bank
• Computer Recycling Center
• Connect Hearing Inc.
• CoxHealthPlans LLC
• CoxHealth
• Dake Wells Architecture Inc.
• Dark Stone Coffee LLC
• DeLong Plumbing LLC
• Digital Print Ink
• Double Jump Media 
• Downstream Casino Resort
• Duckett Ladd LLP 
• Edward Jones
• Employer Service Partners
• Evangel University
• Foundation Recovery Systems
• Friga Construction Co. Inc. 
• GFI Digital
• Great Southern Bank
• Grooms Office Environments
• H & R Block  
• Heather Hill Farms LLC
• Houck Transit Advertising     
• Integrity Pharmacy LLC
• James River, Magnolia Square and Birch Pointe Health & Rehab
• JMark Business Solutions Inc.
• KADI 99.5, KICK 1340 AM/92.3 FM
• Lakeland Office Systems LLC
• Lamar Advertising
• Layer 3 Technology
• Leadership Springfield
• Mexican Villa Food Products Inc.
• Mid-West Family Broadcast Group      
• Midwest Office
• Missouri Job Center           
• Missouri Securities Division
• Oasis Hotel & Convention Center
• O’Bannon Banking Company
• OnMedia
• O’Reilly Auto Parts   
• Ozark Fence & Supply Co. LLC  
• Ozark LED & Solar LLC
• Ozark Mailing Service LLC     
• Ozarks Regional YMCA
• Paladin Managed Solutions LLC 
• Paragon Architecture LLC
• Parkcrest Dental Group
• Penmac Staffing Services Inc.
• Pillar Insurance LLC
• ProTel Systems & Supplies Inc.
• QPS Employment Group Inc. 
• Rick’s Automotive
• Self Interactive
• Sho-Me Technologies LLC
• Simmons Bank
• Skywire Solar
• Southwest Audio Visual Inc.  
• Spectrum Payroll Co. LLC
• Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
• Springfield Area Human Resources Association
• Springfield Blue Print & Photo Copy Co.
• Springfield Builders Inc.
• Springfield Business Journal
• Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc.
• Springfield Public Schools
• Springfield Regional Arts Council Inc.
• Springfield-Branson National Airport
• SpringNet
• Staffing Plus
• State Farm Insurance - Mike Breeding
• Sun Solar LLC
• Towner Communications Systems
• The Arc of the Ozarks
• The Growth Coach
• The UPS Store
• Thrivent Financial
• The Payroll Company
• Pitt Technology Group LLC
• Tuthill Vacuum & Blower Systems
• Twisted Mike’s
• U.S. Cellular     
• University Plaza
• Vatterott College
• Vision Clinic PC
• Xerox Document Solutions

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