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Trade show site set
Friday, November 15, 2013
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin staff writer
The Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual trade show at a new location — sort of — next year.
Fast Track 2014 is scheduled March 4-5 at Commonwealth Centre, the former Tultex factory off Commonwealth Boulevard near Liberty Fair Mall, where it has been held for the past few years.
But the expo no longer will be in the Clock Tower Building. Instead, it will be in another large building behind that structure, according to George Lester, whose firm owns Commonwealth Centre.
Due to an increase in its business, a call center at Commonwealth Centre plans to expand into space on an upper floor in the Clock Tower Building that the trade show occupied, Lester said.
He declined to identify the call center because it has not yet made a formal announcement of its plans. However, he said he understands the expansion “should result in a significant number of new jobs for the area.”
The new trade show location will be on the ground level. Lester and chamber President Amanda Witt noted that the location was used earlier this fall by the Charity League of Martinsville & Henry County for its Bargain Fair.
Witt told the chamber’s board on Thursday about the new location.
It is “very wide open, with aisle widths that are more conducive” to holding an event of the trade show’s magnitude, she said.
The space inside the Clock Tower Building consisted of three large rooms and its layout “was choppy,” she added.
A preliminary floor plan for Fast Track 2014 shows the event being held in one large rectangular room with two rows of sponsors’ booths on the right.
Visitors would walk through “sponsors row” to the back of the building to access seven vertical aisles with booths of businesses and organizations on both sides. A horizontal aisle would bisect the vertical aisles about midway, providing easy access to booths, the plan shows.
Lester said the new location will undergo some remodeling “to make it fully usable” by the trade show.
More than 130 exhibitors representing area businesses and organizations were at Fast Track 2013, which attracted about 5,000 visitors.
Over the years, the expo has become a highly regarded community event and one that chambers of commerce elsewhere have copied.
Because a new location had to be obtained, the chamber is about a month behind in planning Fast Track 2014, but Witt said she expects no problems.
The organization soon will begin contacting past trade show participants, she said.
Any businesses or organizations interested in participating in next year’s event can call the chamber at 632-6401.
Weather permitting, Fast Track is held each year from 4-8 p.m. on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of March.
Opening night is the invitation-only VIP Night, designed to be a networking time for participants. The event is open to the public on the following day.