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Fast Track aims to keep local businesses moving
Trade show VIP event set Tuesday
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Blue Ridge Village’s booth at Fast Track 2013 has a Disney theme. Putting the finishing touches on the booth are (from left) Marketing Director Tilisa Riddle, artistic and maintenance department employee Celia Tucker and Business Manager Bren Perkins. (Bulletin photos by Mickey Powell)
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Deborah Barker spent most of Monday afternoon moving large rocks around the floor of a former factory and installing plants around them.

She was setting up the booth that the florist she co-owns, Simply The Best Flowers & Gifts, will have at Fast Track 2013. The Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s annual trade show opens today at the Clock Tower Building at Commonwealth Centre, the old Tultex plant off Franklin Street.

Simply The Best’s booths always are popular with trade show visitors.

Barker declined to detail the design for this year’s booth — she wants it to be a surprise. However, she said it will have “a natural setting” and focus on one of the services that the florist offers customers.

Blue Ridge Village’s booth has a Disney theme and is designed to look like the Magic Kingdom. Marketing Manager Tilisa Riddle said the assisted living and rehabilitation center realizes that the services it provides are not ones that families generally enjoy talking about.

Therefore, in creating booths for the trade show each year, Riddle said, “we like to make it fun so it doesn’t have to be scary” for people who might be in need of those services.

It helps show that employees care about the center’s residents, she noted, adding that “our residents are like family.”

Fast Track 2013 runs from 4-8 p.m. today and Wednesday. Tonight is VIP Night, a time for representatives of businesses and organizations to get to know one another and do businesses. It is open only to invited guests.

“It’s good to meet with other companies ... to see if we can help them” do business, which in turn might encourage them to stay in the area, said Brian Brown, president of Renewable Engineered Systems. The firm has taken part in the trade show since 2010.

Again this year, The Taste of Martinsville-Henry County will be part of VIP Night, with more than a dozen businesses and caterers serving samples of their homemade treats.

The trade show will be open to the public Wednesday. Admission will be $2 or two canned food items to help the needy.

A total of 134 exhibitors will be showcasing their products and services. About two dozen of the exhibitors will be first-time participants.

One new exhibitor is Mollie’s Originals, a sewing, embroidery and screen-printing business that opened about two years ago.

“Hopefully, it will be a great way to promote our business ... and become better known to the community,” said co-owner Sharon Sleeper.

Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) participates in Fast Track annually. It will have an extremely large booth this year, showcasing various academic programs and services and showing people how to winterize their homes.

“It’s hard to know” whether PHCC gets many students directly as a result of the contacts it makes at the trade show, said Public Relations Director Kris Landrum. Yet visitors show “a lot of interest” in the college, she said.

Chamber officials are hoping that wintry weather expected tonight and Wednesday does not keep people away from the show. Forecasts have generally decreased the amount of frozen precipitation predicted.

“I think we’ll be all right,” said chamber President Amanda Witt. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

 

 
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