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Business expo proves popular

With several businesses opening in Oak Harbor in recent months, the new owners are looking for ways to get their name out into the community.

They found an easy way to do that Wednesday evening, Nov. 7, by attending a business expo sponsored by the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. The first business expo brought together 37 Oak Harbor businesses and between 150 and 200 people who attended the event. It produced a low-key atmosphere at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge where owners had a chance to network with each other while speaking with visitors.

“We like the intimate setting because it had a business after hours feel to it,” said Jill Johnson, executive director for the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

The event provided a forum that fit chamber members’ needs. Other chamber-sponsored events typically focus on the larger community.

The night was a popular one for local businesses. So many wanted to participate that the chamber had to start a waiting list. Johnson said the chamber will look to hold such expos in the spring and the fall in the future.

The expo provided an opportunity to enjoy samples from such restaurants as the Bay City Bistro and Angelo’s Caffé. With such established businesses at the Koetje Agency and Edward Jones also present, the expo provided a place for people to mingle and learn.

Sue Tingstad recently moved her business, Academy of Hope, from her home in Coupeville to an office in downtown Oak Harbor.

“I decided I really wanted a presence in Oak Harbor,” Tingstad said during the expo.

She decided to have a spot because of the visibility the expo offers.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to meet people and see and be seen,” Tingstad said.

In addition to the booths filled with business people handing out literature, several restaurants brought samples for people to try.

Chef Seth Mckee from the Bay City Bistro, which opened its doors last May on Pioneer Way, spent the evening cooking mussels for folks to sample.

Mckee attended the forum to introduce Bistro employees to the community while checking out the other businesses at the same time.

The inaugural chamber expo provided much-needed exposure for new businesses in Oak Harbor, which is crucial to help them get off the ground.

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