GroBiz '11 'good start' for Chamber of Commerce event

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The debut of a trademark event for the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce has been dubbed "a good start" by organizers.

About 90 people attended the daylong conference portion of GroBiz 2011, and nearly 50 vendors participated in the next day's trade show in the debut of the Chamber's new event in March.

"In looking back on the business conference it was, I think, a very good start for a new event," said Chamber Chief Exeuctive Officer David Woolson.

"I think it was a bit of an experiment because Walla Walla had not done a daylong business conference, and I think the experiment worked. I think that there's enough momentum and interest to continue this as an annual event."

Guest speaker, author and consultant Brad Worthley kicked off the conference with "Simple Steps to an Extraordinary Career." Maury Foreman, senior manager of Rural Initiatives for the Washington state Department of Commerce, delivered a luncheon address on "Creating an Entrepreneurial Community." Other speakers came from Walla Walla's own business community, including manufacturer representatives, marketing specialists, sales experts, entrepreneurs and more.

Woolson said he hopes to grow the conference into a regional event that will draw an audience and speakers from Seattle, Portland, Spokane and the Tri-Cities. Attendees apparently would be eager to return for such a conference.

Those who filled out the Chamber's followup survey on what they liked and what could be approved commented that the variety of topics covered was vast and the timing was right for such an event.

The March 17 and 18 event, held in partnership with Walla Walla Community College, was a replacement of the Chamber's previous event known as the Business Expo & Home Show. Woolson said that trade show was ready for a transformation though it typically drew at least 20 more vendors.

"I know we were competing with some nice weather," Woolson said of the lower participation. "Part of it was probably a bit of the name change and also the thematic change. It may take more time for folks to see it."

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