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Whidbey's Biz Expo returns

A once-popular event promoting Whidbey Island businesses will return this weekend after an absence of one year.

In a sign of an improving economy, the Island County Biz Expo will welcome visitors Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9 and 10. Now in its 18th year, the trade fair features approximately 90 businesses from across Whidbey Island. It takes place inside both gymnasiums at Coupeville Middle and High School.

The expo showcases many of the services and businesses available on Whidbey Island.

“The whole purpose is to keep your tax dollars local and support the local economy,” said Sharon Hart, executive director of the Island County Economic Development Council.

She said she was pleasantly surprised at the variety of businesses that chose to participate in this year’s expo. She noted medical companies, real estate firms, telecommunications and a clean air company as just a few of the businesses that will have booths during this year’s two-day event.

Hart said a drop in the numbers of businesses participating in the fair prompted organizers to skip the 2009 expo.

“We had to cancel it, but we knew we were going to be back.” Hart said.

It takes at least 90 businesses to fill both gymnasiums for a successful trade fair, but she could only muster around 70 businesses that were willing to participate last year.

She said the poor economy, notably in the construction industry and local retailers, caused the low turnout in 2009. She added that several retailers had laid off staff and couldn’t commit to attending a two-day, weekend event.

Fortunately, the local economy appears to be improving somewhat and more businesses are able to participate in the expo.

The event takes place the same weekend as Coupeville’s HarvestFest, which is a celebration that includes a giant pumpkin contest, a giant zucchini contest and the final Coupeville Farmer’s Market of the season.

The Island County Biz Expo is scheduled for Oct. 9 and Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

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