Checking in from the Expo

Maria Hoover, SBJ Features EditorSBJ Features Editor Maria Hoover is blogging live from the Business Expo, which lasts until 7 tonight at the Springfield Expo Center.

I have often compared Business Expo to Halloween for grownups. This year is no exception. I’m happy to say I’ve gotten lots of new contacts for stories, and I’ve also checked in with sources I’ve used in the past.

I stopped in at the Penmac booth, decked out completely in ’80s regalia. Think neon, and lots of it. After playing the spin-n-win game and snagging a bright pen for my collection, I visited for just a bit with Tony Iaguessa, who’s leading the way for Penmac’s new Pentec division.

While other news is full of the economic downturn, and unemployment is a growing concern, Iaguessa tells me that with an average of 80 open postings a day, Penmac has more jobs available than it has people to fill them. The bottom line: For people who want to work, the opportunities are out there. A bright spot of news in these economic times.

Stopped for a quick chat with Dr. Jennifer Baker of the School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute. Baker has been a contributing writer with SBJ, but I hadn’t heard from her in a while. Turns out she’s been busy with a new program, The Center for Professional Solutions at Forest Institute. This endeavor, she says, is geared toward workplace issues, including conflict resolution, leadership development and dealing with difficult employees. I’m definitely intrigued and will need to dig into this later.

And now, the fun stuff. I stopped by the Price Cutter booth, which was offering cooking tips for the “kitchen-challenged.” That’s definitely me! Sampled some sort of simple barbecue rib dish and picked up a booklet of tips and “easy recipes.” We’ll have to see about that one.

Vendors this year are offering all kinds of freebies. So far my favorite finds: A bright orange, feather-headed ink pen from Addison Advertising. It suctions to the desk, and when pushed, has a crazy laugh. That’ll come in handy on those work-crunch days in the newsroom.

And from the folks at St. John’s Hospice and Home Care, a pill-box keychain and something new (to me anyway): hand sanitizer in a compact, easy to carry spray bottle. Looks kind of like an ink pen with the little hook to keep it in your pocket. The folks at KPM have something similar, so those must be one of the “in” promo items right now.

All this, and I’ve only made it through one half of the floor.

I had worried that participation would be down, given current market conditions, but I was wrong. Businesses want to get their names out there. And this is a fun way to do it.

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