Friday, May 13, 2011

TOP STORY > >Boot Camp theme of business expo

Leader managing editor

Boot Camp — a military training camp for new recruits with strict discipline. Boot Camp, the Jacksonville Chamber of Com-merce’s concept for Thursday’s Business Expo 2011.

Billed as Jacksonville’s premier business-building event by the chamber’s events manager Lance Branscum, last year’s expo drew more than 2,500 people who visited 90 trade and taste booths, savoring the information as well as the food.

The chamber’s boot camp promises lots of important information for new business owners as well as for their established counterparts. There will be a wealth of information on local businesses, new and established, and a look at many of the innovations these businesses have put in place since the beginning of the digital age.

The expo will be just that, a training camp for new business recruits and hopefuls but also a refresher camp for seasoned business types.

In keeping with this year’s theme, participating businesses and sponsors are decorating with an armed-forces theme.

Visitors to the Boot Camp Expo will see an array of Air Force blues, Army greens and Navy whites as booth holders vie for creativity and spirit awards.

Visitors will also register at business booths for an assortment of prizes and many businesses will give away items to those who attend. Mugs, tape measures, pens, key rings, memo pads, jump drives, oversized paperclips, reusable shopping bags, miniflashlights and plastic cups were among items given away in years past.

There is also an abundance of informative brochures from expo participants on services they offer and on more general items such as home safety, eldercare, banking and finance, insurance, education and energy efficiency.

A la Boot Camp — the information is there for those who want and need it.

But it’s not all work. There’s lots of play and there’s lots of fun to be had including a $1,000 grand prize which visitors can register to win. The public can also register to win individual prizes at business booths and many booths feature games with prizes.

Yes, Boot Camp can be fun and there will be no MREs here. There will be lots of food vendors including Western Sizzlin’, Papa Murphy’s, BBQ Shack, Little Caesar’s, Spring Roll, Original Fried Pie Shop, Hunan, Golden Corral and Cayenne’s Cajun Cuisine.

The food vendors will trade off shifts from 8 a.m. to 11 and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. so food will be available throughout the event. Visitors to the expo can purchase Expo Bucks to exchange for food from the tasting booths or they can be placed into the drawing for the $1,000 grand prize.

Sponsors for the event in-clude gold sponsors Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Century Link, Cool 104.7, First Arkansas Bank and Trust, Jacksonville Patriot, Gwatney Chevrolet, Comcast, Valhalla Enterprises and the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department.

The Leader is also one of this year’s gold sponsors and is providing the free expo tabloid with a map of exhibitors and information on the sponsors.

Silver sponsors are First Electric Cooperative, North Metro Medical Center, Ashland Performance Specialties, Com-fort Inn, Best Western Inn and Super 8.

Bronze sponsors include Arkansas State University at Little Rock Air Force Base, Greenbriar Retirement Center, Centennial Bank, Century 21 Prestige Realty, Arvest Bank, Woodland Hills Health and Rehab, Branscum and Co., Inc., and Entergy.

Other trade booths are Mobilized/Verizon Wireless, Pulaski Technical College, ADT Security Services, Whit Davis Lumber Co., Families Inc. Counseling Services, Scentsy, Chopsticks International Cen-ter, State Farm Insurance, Allfam Bowling, U.S. Small Busi-ness Administration, Access Media, Jacksonville Senior Center, Jacksonville Museum of Military History, Arbonne International, Jacksonville Com-munity Development, Arkansas Department of Workforce Ser-vices, St. Vincent Family Clinic, Direct Buy, Arkansas Insurance Department, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and U.S. Bank.