River Region Chamber trying out new event on Thursday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2012

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – The River Region Chamber of Commerce will take a new approach to helping the region’s small businesses next week when it holds its first ever reverse trade show at the National Guard Readiness Center in Reserve Thursday.

The event is the brainchild of Sheila Butler, who heads up the Business Development Committee, and John Harmon. She said they each were thinking about such an event independently, and both brought up the idea at the same meeting.

“It was interesting the way it happened,” said Butler.

“We started talking about what it could do for the community and thought it was a great idea,” Butler added.

Butler said many of the region’s largest employers — including Mosaic, Valero, Entergy, Dow, Dupont, Shell, Marathon, IMTT, Air Products, Ecolab Co. (formerly Nalco), AT&T and St. John Parish Schools — will have booths at the event aimed at showing smaller businesses how to have commerce with larger businesses and industries.

Butler explained that many smaller businesses do not know to approach a larger business or corporation to offer goods or services. For example, a local cleaning service may not know how to approach a local industry about using its services, and the reverse trade show is aimed at remedying this situation.

“A lot of times, smaller businesses just don’t know how to do business with larger companies,” said Butler.

She said all the businesses with booths will have representatives from their procurement departments on hand to answer questions and meet face-to-face with attendees. Attendees should bring a list of services and products offered by their business.

“And of course bring lots of business cards,” Butler added.

“It’s different because it offers the smaller businesses the chance to meet face to face with the procurement departments of these companies,” she said. “A lot of these companies have never had that opportunity before.”

Butler said the goal of the event is to keep as much commerce as possible within the River Parishes.

The Chamber is encouraging anyone interested in attending to pre-register for the event.

Early registration is $25 for Chamber members and $40 for non-members. At the door, registration will be $35 for members and $50 for non-members.

The reverse trade show will take place Jan. 26 from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.

For more information or to register for the reverse trade show, call the Chamber office at 985-359-9777.