It was a networking homerun for businesses at Augusta Business Daily’s fourth Conference and Expo yesterday. Familiar faces were joined by newcomers as a broad cross-section of local businesses set up in the concourse of SRP Park in North Augusta. Participants ran the gamut from ADP to Welcome Health, ready to answer questions and share brochures and information about their respective businesses.
One of the veterans was Azalea Investments, which participated in the 2021 and 2022 expos.
“It’s just the fun of it. You know, it’s nice to see people get this,” said Chris Withers of Azalea Outdoors, which specializes in billboards and outdoor advertising. “We’re all so busy, and it’s hard to spread yourself out. ABD kind of brings the businesses to you here, which is great.”
Also, returning this year was Hargrove Inspections and Cleanings. They were involved with the expo in 2022, which was held in the Kroc Center in Augusta.
“The change in venue was exciting for us, you know, come into SRP Park, and I thought it would be very unique,” said John Boudreaux. “This is an opportunity to kind of spread out and probably accommodate some more vendors if I had to guess.”
One of those new vendors was Augusta University’s Hull College of Business, which is educating entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future.
Genesis Shawkey Lee, MBA Program Coordinator, said the expo was the chance to talk with professionals who might be interested in the university’s MBA and related business programs.
It was also a chance to help reach an enrollment goal Augusta University President, Brooks Keel laid out in his June 2022 State of the University address, 16,000 students by 2030.
“So, we are trying to double our enrollment and our business school,” Lee explained. “We have our major in accounting, and we have our BBA, which is our Bachelor of Business Administration. And we also have our MBA program, which we are expanding and this year, we have our new MBA with a health care management consultation.”
Currently, Augusta University has approximately 9,000 students.
Withers and Boudreaux both said one of the important benefits of taking part in the expo was the chance to network and to be able to meet other local businesspeople face-to-face.
“We love networking with other businesses, especially other small local businesses because we’re one ourselves,” Boudreaux explained. “A lot of times we’re so busy doing our craft, we don’t get to necessarily mingle with other businesses and meet them and spend a little extra time with them and hear all the services they offer, the products that they have.”
Withers added, “I think for us, it puts our face out there. We can explain to them that there are other people in our business because there are some competitors and we’re a smaller company. And so, it helps us to get our name out there and say, ‘Hey, we want what’s best for you, put our name in the hat when calling for advertising leads.’ Give us a shout, you know?”
The expo also included panel discussions, one on economic development and one on employee recruitment and retention.