Last year at York County's Business Expo, YorKitchen was a month away from opening. So kitchen coordinators Aeman Bashir and Kimberly Gross used the event as an opportunity to introduce York's shared kitchen to the local community.
This year, they used the York County Economic Alliance Business Expo as a chance to highlight six of the businesses that share the kitchen. From gourmet cheesecakes to granola, chefs lined up tiny paper cups full of samples for attendees of the Expo at Toyota Arena, where nearly 200 local businesses were represented.
"It's a great forum to talk to the general public and show how these chefs were able to grow their businesses," Gross said. "We always meet someone who says they've always wanted to have a food business if only they had a commercial kitchen. And that's what we're here for."
Four of the six YorKitchen users who were on display Wednesday are startups, and the other two are cooks who have expanded their production. Their success stories are the tangible parts of Bashir and Gross' vision for the kitchen.
"(The Expo) is a chance to share our vision with the community," Bashir said.
The York franchise of Texas-based Fast Signs used the Expo as a chance to share a new product - a removable, vinyl covering that can be applied on concrete, carpeting, hardwood and more. At the Expo, workers displayed it as an ice rink as attendees took shots at a brave goalie.
A number of local companies have already started using Fast Signs' new product in their atriums to advertise some of their own new products, said Linda Odenwalt, visual communications specialist at Fast Signs.
"This Expo gives us a chance to reach even more potential customers," she said.
For leaders of the Women's Network of York, a professional development organization, the Expo serves as a chance to meet new members and reconnect with the community, said Diane Yocum, who serves on the network's board of directors.
The "excellent networking opportunity" is perhaps the best feature of the Expo. "It's not often that you get 170 businesses all under one roof," said Louise Heine, spokeswoman for the YCEA, which formed in January when the York County Economic Development Corp. and the York County Chamber of Commerce merged to further foster economic development.
Though the YCEA is new, the Expo is not. It was hosted for several years as the York County Chamber Business & Technology Expo.
With YCEA as the new host, the transition was seamless, Heine said.
"We worked together, and everything meshed very well. Our goal is the same-to lead and connect, and act as an advocacy alliance for local businesses," she said.
Awards: The following companies were honored during the York County Economic Alliance Business Expo:
People's Choice: Weaver Eye Associates
Best of Show: Atland House Catering and Production Express Inc.
Best of Show Honorable Mention: YorKitchen
Best Use of Technology: Reynolds AV, LLC
Best New Exhibitor: Hi-Tech Concrete Coatings
Most Enthusiastic: Susquehanna Bank
- Reach Candy Woodall at 505-5437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.