Area prepares for bizX

Event will feature keynote speaker, development seminars

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Joe Pyzowski works in the server room at PC Works Plus in Bellwood. The company is one of many participating in bizX, a regional trade show that showcases businesses in the area. The event is a joint effort between the Blair County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County.

By Walt Frank

wfrank@altoonamirror.com

Officials of two area chambers of commerce are excited about their upcoming regional business expo.

bizX will be held from 1 to

7 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Blair County Convention Center.

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Phil Hopnick works as a security consultant for PC Works Plus in Bellwood. The company hopes to gain more exposure at this year’s bizX.

The theme of the event is “Trending in Business,” and it will feature keynote luncheon speaker Steve Sheetz, chairman of Sheetz Family Council, as well as professional development seminars, an expo hall with a “Corridor Cuisine” and an evening mixer.

The event is a joint effort between the Blair County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County.

“It’s a regional trade show between Centre and Blair counties to get the word out about what each county has to offer business-wise,” said Stacy Hoover, the Blair chamber’s vice president of events and technology.

“It’s an opportunity to reach beyond our borders to showcase the latest in business and provide networking between the two counties. Our focus is for the vendors to showcase what’s new,” said Lesley Kistner, CBICC vice president of communications and marketing.

A regional trade show hasn’t been held in the area for several years.

“The folks at CBICC approached us. We thought it was an excellent idea. I-99 connects us, and we thought it was a great way to showcase our members. It’s been in the works for about a year,” Hoover said.

“We felt it was time. A lot of our members pushed for a regional expo. We partner with Blair County, and I-99 connects the two of us. It was time to bring the two counties together to reach new customers. There aren’t borders in business anymore. It just made sense,” Kistner said.

The two chambers hope to make bizX an annual event. The goal of the event is to showcase their members.

As of July 27, 55 of the available 97 booth spaces had been filled.

“We are very optimistic that we’ll will reach that goal. We’re accepting any business that wants to showcase their products and services. The majority of the exhibitors are members, but we have a few non-members,” Hoover said.

Participating businesses are looking forward to the event.

“I think it’s great idea to expand the coverage area. And it gives us an opportunity to interact with one another, and it gives people an opportunity to come in contact with businesses they may not come across in their everyday travels,” said Brianna Carr, marketing manager and events coordinator for Camp Hill-based Morefield Communications, which has a regional office in Altoona.

“It’s also an opportunity to see what other businesses are doing and align with them. When you’re able to get businesses come together, there are great things that can happen,” Carr added.

“A combined showcase for all businesses in Centre and Blair counties is a great way for consumers from other areas to see what businesses exist away from their own backyards,” said CEO/founder Jill Weaver of AnswerLinks Inc.

“Any time companies can be exposed to consumers who otherwise wouldn’t know of their existence is a positive experience. To have AnswerLinks in this type of environment should help grow the brand, serve our surrounding business community and make outsiders aware that a premium answering service/virtual receptionist service exists that’s close to home,” he said.

Terra Wertz, CFO of PC Works Plus, Bellwood, said the event will provide more exposure for her business.

“This gives us exposure to a bigger area. We’re branching out more into the security part of the IT world. This helps gives us more exposure than to just the Blair County area,” Wertz said.

Aaron Beatty, franchise owner of Val Pak of Blair County, Val Pak of Lion Country and Tri-County Val Pak, said he couldn’t be more excited about the event.

“I’m a new franchise owner, and this is a great opportunity for us to do business to business networking and showcase what we have to offer,” Beatty said. “We really need a chance to get out and shake hands with the business owners and community leaders. This is a great investment and networking tool to put faces to names and get to know everyone.”

Joe Harford and Jeff Kozak are also excited about participating in bizX.

“I think it’s a great idea, being able to meet with other business owners and get a networking opportunity,” said Harford, president and founder of Reclamere, Tyrone. “We’re focusing on cyber security. When people hear cyber security, they think it will only happen in places like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and that we’re safe here in the Alleghenies. That is not the case. Our goal is to spread the gospel of cyber security and show how our fellow neighboring businesses can be safe and secure.”

“We’re looking for networking opportunities, and this gives us a chance to showcase our services and products,” said Kozak, general manager of Labor Specialties Inc., Tyrone.

Washington, D.C.-based WGL Energy, which has an office in Pittsburgh, will also be participating.

“We want to generate business in that area, and this may enable us to connect with customers. This may be a good way to start doing that,” said Thomas Carroll, business development manager.

Kistner hopes the participants take advantage of the opportunities being presented to them.

“We want to encourage the exhibitors to see this is an opportunity to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. Don’t just sit behind a table — you can think outside of the box. You have a captive audience,” Kistner said.

Booth spaces remain available.

There are two prices: For small businesses with under 50 employee, the cost is $250, and for larger businesses with 50 or more employees, it’s $350. Any business interested should call Hoover at 943-8151 or visit www.bizx pa.com.

“Sept. 9 is the registration deadline. If booths are still available, we will accept them after that, but they may not be listed in the publications,” Hoover said.

The event is open to the general public.

“This is a business to consumer and business to business event. We encourage the general public to attend to see what’s new,” Kistner said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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