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Showcase: time to mix business with pleasure

Showcase: time to mix business with pleasure
Showcase: time to mix business with pleasure
Annie Reiss hands out beads at the Star of Louisville's festive booth while Robyn Thompson chats with Joe Shireman. (Photo by Charles S. Ewry)

Cindy Nevitt’s ‘box office people’ can always tell where she’s been. Everywhere she goes, she brings a different promotion so they can track the business she drums up at a particular event.
They’ll know, for instance, that she was at Showcase Harrison County on Thursday promoting Derby Dinner Playhouse from her booth in the Colosseum at Caesars’ Bridgeport complex.
‘This is a wonderful show,’ Nevitt said. ‘It’s like this all day. It’s always so upbeat. The day goes by so fast.’
So how does Derby Dinner benefit?
‘Exposure. You never lose from it,’ Nevitt said.
Showcase was launched in 2000, and it has grown every year.
Event coordinator Sarah Turpin, the vice president of membership and public relations for the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, offered a conservative estimate of 1,030 visitors. The event drew 600 in 2001, but jumped to 1,000 visitors last year.
One of the biggest obstacles facing Harrison County’s trade show was finding a meeting place large enough. The Colosseum met the need in 2000, but space has again emerged as a limiting factor.
Last year, 75 exhibitors were in 83 booths. This year, 76 exhibitors were in 83 booths. (Some exhibitors were in double-booths.) The Colosseum can’t accommodate any more booth space.
Turpin is not ready to concede that the event has reached a plateau. As far as visitors are concerned, ‘I think we can get more,’ she said.
‘We are really looking at this coming year adding something that is going to punch it up a little more,’ Turpin said.
The event promotes Harrison County by providing exposure for local businesses and services to both consumers and other Kentuckiana businesses. Caesars provides the largest county venue plus a pool of tourists to wander through the Colosseum’s doors.
‘I think the venue is productive for our vendors who exhibit business to business, and it’s productive for our vendors who exhibit business to public, especially our tourism industry,’ Turpin said.
About 400 browsers completed the exit survey and entered the grand prize drawing. Regina Ann McCormick of Jeffersonville won the $1,000 travel voucher.
The surveys were still being tabulated, but it was clear that Showcase had visitors from a broad geographic area, supporting Turpin’s assessment that Caesars provides a pool of proven Harrison County tourists.
And bolstering Showcase’s business-to-business appeal, the show has become a social gathering as well as a business event.
Chris Kanemitsu of Georgetown’s Energy Tech 21 found plenty of time for networking. ‘I think I definitely made a few new friends and enhanced some of the relationships I already have,’ he said.
Kanemitsu generated 12 leads interested in his energy efficient lighting solutions during his first appearance at Showcase.
‘It was comparable to what we did at the Southern Indiana Chamber Small Business Expo (in Clarksville). We probably generated about three firm sales,’ he said.
Caesars again volunteered to cater the Chamber’s ‘Business After Hours’ at 5 p.m. ‘Very graciously, I might add,’ said Darrell Voelker, the Chamber’s executive director. And after the show had ended and the booths were broken down, many Showcase participants relocated to the unofficial after-show party at Legends, Caesars’ restaurant and night club.
Voelker said that Thursday has worked very well for Showcase in the past and there are no plans for a weekend date in the future.
‘Probably a lot of people take off on Friday or they are already challenged by what they didn’t do during the week,’ he said, adding that the Thursday scheduling was consistent with other Chamber events.
Bill Taylor of Union Planters Bank chaired the Showcase Committee for the third consecutive year. He made a brief appearance in the Colosseum despite a broken leg.
Sponsors this year included: Caesars Indiana, Quicksilver Resources, Tyson Foods Inc., Union Planters Bank, James L. Shireman Inc., and Jeffersonville’s Nicholson Printing and Stites & Harbison PLLC.
Tyson Foods won the Best Booth Award for the third year running.