Business showcase set in Milton-Freewater

Nearly 30 businesses will be on hand for the event Thursday evening.

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MILTON-FREEWATER -- Nearly 30 businesses will showcase goods and services and city and Chamber of Commerce officials will be on hand in a community event Thursday designed for networking and relationship building.

The Milton-Freewater Chamber/City Business Showcase continues the open house tradition established several years ago by the Milton-Freewater Area Chamber of Commerce. Except that in this case, the event has moved to a different time of year and will have more participation from businesses and community leaders.

"We've always had the businesses come in but we've tried to make it a little bigger and better this year," said Chamber Executive Director Cheryl York.

Doors at the Community Building, 109 N.E. Fifth Ave., will be open 5-7 p.m. for the free event.

Previously known as the Chamber's open house, the showcase had been held in January. But York said organizers struggled to get the project together in time this year and decided to change it up. The Chamber partnered with the city as a way to get more people involved.

Council members and water district representatives will join Chamber officials to network with the public.

York said it's a chance for residents to get to know who serves them and how to get involved. Encouraging people to shop local at the same time is an added bonus, she said.

"The economy is scary and challenging," she said. "It's a chance to meet people, ask questions. Just getting people in the doors to realize we do have some great businesses in Milton-Freewater."

If the event goes well, the timing could become a permanent switch for the open house previously held at the start of the year. Attendance last year was down from about 125 people in 2009 to 50 or 60 in 2010, York said. Officials aren't entirely sure why the decrease occurred but are determined to see if the event can grow again.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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