By Joel Hall
More than 45 companies in Clayton County will show residents what they have to offer during the third annual Showcase Clayton Community Expo.
The free, yearly smorgasbord of local goods and services will take place on Thursday, Oct. 16, from 3:30-7:30 p.m., inside the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Community Center.
Sponsored by the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce and presented by VanO'Linda and Associates, a local financial services firm, the event will feature dozens of restaurants, investment banks, accounting firms, and other local businesses. All will be showing off their products and letting the public sample their goods.
Mystique VanO'Linda, president of VanO'Linda and Associates, said the event is a unique opportunity for smaller businesses to engage the public, and vice-versa.
"There are still success stories that are happening in Clayton County," said VanO'Linda. "[The event] is a positive way of letting the community know that we are here. For me, it's just an opportunity where people in the community can come and see the kind of services we have available.
"Some home-based businesses may not have the marketing dollars to market to a certain group, but this is a chance to do just that," VanO'Linda continued. "Families will be able to come out and find businesses and services that fit them."
In years past, the expo was held at such locations as the Harry S. Downs Center for Continuing Education at Clayton State University and the State Farmers Market in Forest Park. This will be the first year in which the event is centrally located "in the heart of the county," according to VanO'Linda.
In addition, the event will be more family oriented, featuring a kid's zone with games and face painting, as well as food, door prizes, and raffles from various businesses. Crystal Black, manager of member services for the chamber, said the group wanted to make this year's event as inclusive and open to the public as possible.
"Given the current economic situation we are in, any event in which you can interact with the community to show what you do, ... it's a benefit," said Black. "For people who have new products or new services, this is a way for them to promote their new products or services."
VanO'Linda said they are expecting about 350 people to turn out for the event this year.
"I think this is going to be the most visible spot that we've had," said VanO'Linda. "We want people to be able to see it happening and want to stop in."
The chamber is still accepting applications for exhibitors. For more information, call (678) 610-4027, or visit www.claytonchamber.org.