East Texas business leaders shook hands and swapped cards at the Harvey Convention Center on Thursday afternoon. Many of the area’s best companies gathered under one roof for the B2B Expo, presented by the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored in part by Stonewater Roofing. More than 5,000 people attend the event each year.
“This event is 25 years old this year, and it’s all about networking,” said chamber COO Henry Bell. “It’s all about connecting people to help them do their businesses with each other, business to business. That’s B2B.”
Booths were spread across the convention center’s main room, and even spilled out into the hallways. Along with the exhibition floor, the event included specialized presentations to help local businesses learn the skills that are necessary for growth. “We had HR workshops this morning. We had a networking luncheon. Now, the expo with all of the exhibitors and their booths,” Bell continued. “They’re all networking and networking with each other.”
“If it wasn’t for small business, we would be nowhere,” said Brent Lyon, director of sales for Townsquare Media. “All of our employees believe that small business is the foundation of who we are.”
“This event has gotten better and better,” added Jennifer Gaston, editorial director for Tyler Today magazine. Her publication reaches 90,000 readers across Smith County. This is Gaston’s ninth year at the B2B Expo. “The more I’m involved with, the more people I meet. Stay engaged and find stories.”
Stonewater Roofing was among the businesses in attendance at the expo, interviewing officials from other companies on Facebook Live and handing out bags, water bottles and more. Invoicing specialist Matthew Coats even provided some live music for the event. A very special congratulations goes out to Katie Clarkston with SERVPRO of Tyler, who walked away from the Stonewater Roofing booth as the winner of a brand new Apple iPad Pro.
Meanwhile, Bell is particularly proud of how the area has thrived in his time with the chamber, partially due to efforts like the B2B Expo. “It is very fruitful to see the success and the growth that Tyler and East Texas has experienced,” he said. “We were instilled as youngsters that you should give back to your community, give back more than you take out of a community, help it grow.”