Manitoulin Trade Fair offers local businesses chance to shine: putting it out there at the Manitoulin Trade Fair.
"It's an excellent way to let people know what you have to offer, and to show off your business to a pretty sizeable crowd," says Louise McKeen, business service officer with the LaCloche Manitoulin Business Assistance Corporation (LAMBAC).
"People tell me they have pretty good sales over the three days of the event, but that they have a much bigger surge after the event itself. The lasting effects are the real value of participating in something like this."
Held every two years, the event is to be held at the Little Current - Howland Recreation Centre, located on Highway 6, just five minutes off the Island's famed swing bridge.
The prior event held in 2007 drew 10,000 visitors not only from Elliot Lake and Sudbury but even as far away as Alberta. Even more are expected this year as the event continues to evolve and grow.
New to the proceedings this year is a sprawling outdoor 60-by-60-foot tent to accommodate the growing number of exhibitors, which is expected to easily surpass 125 this year.
While the economic downturn has drawn some concern from participating businesses about whether some of their peers are looking to pull out of the event, McKeen says that quite simply isn't the case.
In fact, the opposite is proving to be true, as she's already seen considerable levels of interest from the companies looking to promote themselves, including 25 that hadn't participated in the 2007 event.
The list of exhibitors is broad and wide-ranging, covering a gamut of sectors and companies with a physical "bricks and mortar" presence in LAMBAC's catchment area. This area starts on Nairn Centre on Highway 17, goes west to Walford, through the Espanola corridor on Highway 6 and across the Manitoulin Island.
This includes governmental agencies such as the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and Service Canada, as well as tree services, water treatment services, retail businesses, realtors, injury prevention firms, industrial suppliers, and many others.
As an additional draw, the many retailers participating in this year's event will also have the chance to do some wholesaling.
"It's really more of an event and a show than just your average trade fair," says Mary Nelder, general manager of LAMBAC.
"It's probably the highest-profile community project we do, and this year, it's going to be bigger than ever."
Interest has been such that a separate stage is also being set up to handle extended presentations from the likes of the Ministry of Natural Resource, as well as the Great Spirit Circle Trail, which is due to make regular presentations on its First Nations tourism offerings.
It will also be used to promote various other local tourism initiatives, such as the Manitoulin Country Fest, which will feature some of its performers to promote the August event.
With food vendors and children's activities, organizers hope attendees will find plenty of reasons to spend a full afternoon touring the grounds and learning more about what businesses and services have to offer in the region.
"If you know the geography of Manitoulin Island, this kind of thing really is a great chance to see everyone in a sort of one-stop shop," says McKeen. "It's a great opportunity for you to see what all these businesses have available before you even get in your car and drive there, so it really is beneficial that way."
By NICK STEWART
Northern Ontario Business
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|Publication:||Northern Ontario Business|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2009|
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