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Reverse trade show returns to Bethlehem this month

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PHOTO/ALLPOINTS PHOTOGRAPHY
The Meet the Buyers Expo was last held two years ago, also at ArtsQuest Center, Bethlehem.
PHOTO/ALLPOINTS PHOTOGRAPHY The Meet the Buyers Expo was last held two years ago, also at ArtsQuest Center, Bethlehem.

If you’re a small business in the Greater Lehigh Valley, then you might want to check out the 2017 Meet the Buyers Expo.

Returning for the first time since 2015, the reverse trade show promotes interaction with the small-business community of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Plus, it allows procurement officials at large companies and organizations a chance to connect with potential suppliers.

Featuring 45 procurement professionals and business organizations, the trade show will take place Oct. 18 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

“It [the event] is an opportunity for Lehigh Valley businesses to do business with each other – for smaller businesses, potential for increasing revenue base within the Lehigh Valley market and becoming a partner to area businesses with potentially growing the business employment needs. For larger businesses, finding niche sourcers and developing secondary supply chain resources,” said Sally Handlon who chairs the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. Council on Women and Minority Business and is the lead coordinator of Meet the Buyers.

Handlon is founder and president of Handlon Business Resources LLC in Bethlehem – in business for more than a decade – which is one of the sponsors of Meet the Buyers.

Handlon noted that the expo is held biannually because organizing it is a volunteer effort.

300 ATTENDEES EXPECTED

Handlon said that the event has been a success since the initial expo in 2013, and this year she expects to draw nearly 300 attendees to SteelStacks.

“It is difficult for both the small business and the procurement folks to meet as everyone’s day is so full,” she said. “… This event gives an opportunity to meet several procurement professionals at one stop and for procurement professionals, an opportunity to learn what supply sources are available in the Lehigh Valley – and it’s face to face.”

She noted it also provides the opportunity to start building a relationship which, in turn, can lead to business.

HALF-DAY FORMAT

Handlon said the event structure has been altered each year to reflect feedback from post-event surveys.

“This year, it is being kept to a half-day as it seems difficult for any of us to be out of the office/business much longer,” she said.

The expo will run from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

“We are hoping for increased small-business attendance, renewal of procurement-business acquaintances from previous expos and the ability of most attendees to start one to five new relationships,” Handlon said. “… We have many returning procurement professionals and added several new.”

COLLABORATIVE INITIATIVE

The event is a collaborative effort of nine business organizations: LVEDC, Allentown Economic Development Corp., Community Action Development Corporations of Allentown and Bethlehem, Lehigh University Small Business Development Center, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Manufacturers Resource Center, Nazareth-Bath Regional Chamber of Commerce and Slate Belt Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, an expo steering committee is made up of representatives of the collaborative partners under the LVEDC Local Sourcing and Business Diversity Council.

This group meets periodically between each expo to review results/surveys and plan the next event. From this steering committee, subcommittees are created to support buyers, sponsors, marketing, education, event day/program book, volunteers and finance.

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