Shenango, Lawrence Chambers Join on B2B Expo, 40 Under Forty

SHARON, Pa. – The Shenango Valley and Lawrence County chambers of commerce will tonight hold their third annual Business to Business Expo.

The networking event, set for the Park Inn by Radisson in West Middlesex, again coincides with their third annual recognition of young professionals at a reception for  40 Under Forty honorees.

The two chambers began collaborating about four years ago, recalls Bob McCracken, executive director of both. Shortly afterward came the idea of creating an event targeted more at the businesses community than the traditional business expo for the general public that the Shenango Valley chamber had staged several years.

“It would fit the two-county model better and open opportunities for businesses from each county to get to know each other,” he said. “It really was an opportunity to create a different vehicle.”

This year’s expo will feature 24 exhibitors, “so it isn’t overwhelming,” he said. Among the exhibitors are representatives of the health-care, insurance and financial industries as well as organized labor and real estate.

The change has benefited the event, McCracken said. The first years the general public was “kind of disappointed” because the exhibitors were “really trying to sell” business products and services to other businesses.

“So it was a little different mix,” he said. “Someone coming in as a consumer is not looking to buy an office copier.”

The 40 Under Forty piece “fit perfectly with the plan to bring the business community out” for a different event, he added.

Nominations for 40 Under Forty come in almost equally from both counties, said Deanne Koch, associate director of the Shenango Chamber. “It’s always important to recognize people and their accomplishments,” she said. “We felt it was important to recognize some of the area’s younger people because they are some of the up-and-coming people in our community.”

Said McCracken, “This puts a spotlight on a generation to show they have accomplished a lot in a very short period of time.”

The program is structured to recognize professional accomplishment as well as community services, Koch said. “It’s very broad,” she remarked.

The chambers’ executive director also noted that he often hears concerns about why more young people aren’t selected to serve on local boards. The list of 40 Under Forty nominees serves as a source to identify such individuals, McCracken said.

“You have to ask people if you want them to serve,” he said. “It’s not like there’s a line out the door. But when you do ask them, they’re always ready to step up.”

These younger people see the world “from a whole different corner than you do when you’re 60,” he observed.

Pictured: The chambers’ 2014 business-to-business expo.

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