Clayton County economic development Director Grant Wainscott talks to a resident during the annual Showcase Clayton Business & Community Expo Thursday at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO — Never underestimate the drawing power of chicken.
There is something about the barnyard animal that pulls people in when it’s defeathered, cooked and stuck on a skewer with a nice sauce. It certainly proved to be a draw Thursday for Marietta-based catering company Chef Cary’s Cuisine during its first foray at the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s Showcase Clayton Business and Community Expo.
People lined up to try the company’s sesame chicken in peanut sauce, and bruschetta, and that was a good sign for a company that’s got its eye on building its presence in Clayton County.
“We are based out of Marietta, but we are trying to branch out more on the southside of Atlanta, and we’re branding ourselves as a premier catering service,” said company representative Martine Jules.
The expo was an opportunity to highlight the services provided by businesses that are chamber members, or who — in cases like Chef Cary’s Cuisine — may be considering joining the chamber. Nonprofit groups and city and county government departments also got to promote themselves at the event, said chamber manager of events and programming Jessica Kinard.
“It’s business supporting business,” she said.
Seventy-six businesses participated in the event, making one of the largest, if not the largest, showcase expos the chamber has done. And more than a thousand residents came to see what the exhibitors had to offer.
“It went well,” said Kinard. “Everybody seemed pleased with everything.”
And businesses participating in the expo for the first time were not the only ones bringing the new to this year. Even faithful, regular participants, such as the Forest Park Chick-fil-A Dwarf House, brought something fresh this year.
Dwarf House general manager Eric Stallings said even though Chick-fil-A — another company that has capitalized on the drawing power of chicken — is a widely known brand, it has services residents may not know it offered. That is why his store decided to participate as a premium sponsor for the expo.
“We wanted to expose people especially to our holiday offerings, such as the fact that we cater sides such as macaroni and cheese, collard greens and corn for big holiday meals,” said Stallings. “A lot of people don’t like to cook a big Thanksgiving meal because there is a lot of cooking that has to be done and there’s a lot of pressure to get it right, but we can do all of that for them.”
And it doesn’t hurt when you have a giant cow walking around the event to promote business.
Clayton County economic development Director Grant Wainscott said the expo is a good opportunity for businesses and agencies to promote what they do and what they offer, but he added it’s also a good time for businesses and officials to do some networking. He explained that he was able to talk to one businessman he’s wanted to meet with for weeks at the expo.
He was also able to educate another business owner on the thousands of dollars in tax credits they qualify for because they hired new people this year.
“It’s just a really good chance to talk to people,” said Wainscott.
Chamber president Yulonda Beauford said there is a sense that Clayton County is starting to make a come back economically, and the showcase was a good opportunity to promote that re-emerging vibrancy. Business people are taking notice of efforts being made to move the county forward, she said.
“People are really happy with what’s going on in the county,” said Beauford. “We’re seeing a new spirit of cooperation among the cities and the county, and businesses like seeing that cooperation.”
In addition to the Forest Park Chick-fil-A Dwarf House, other premium sponsors included host First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Ohio Christian University, Tri-Copy Office Equipment, Wells Fargo. Supporter sponsors were Dignity Memorial, Fincher Denmark Williams and Minnifield LLC, the Morrow Center, the Jonesboro Office Depot and Pin Strikes Family Entertainment Center.
Freestyle Productions was the entertainment sponsor while S. Cool Photography was the photography sponsor and Purchasing Alliance Solutions was the exhibitor lounge sponsor.
Clayton State University was the event’s presenting sponsor.