Sept. 12, 2003 – The 2003 Business Expo of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce brought companies of all sizes out of their offices and shops and into the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center on Friday for two days of showing off their goods, services and commitment to the community.
Government agencies and not-for-profit organizations are represented, too.
The Business Expo will continue on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and the public is invited.
Exhibitors turned out in larger numbers this year than last, chamber executive director Joe Aubain said on Friday afternoon. He thinks that's because the expo opened this year on Friday, a work day, which appeals to both business owners and government officials. Last year's event was held on Saturday and Sunday.
"We do this to benefit our members," Aubain said — providing them a setting "under one roof to see many customers at once, verses having consumers find them."
A total of 45 companies and agencies have set up their displays along six rows in the Sports and Fitness Center gymnasium. Airlines, banks, cellular phone companies and security firms are among those touting their goods and services — and in some cases offering Expo specials to attract visitors' attention.
New exhibitors this year are Billy D's Special Tee's, Cape Air, Capital Records Management, Centennial Cellular Services, Chiropractic Health Center, the Economic Development Commission, Innovations By Design, Island Technical Solutions / IT Services, John Foster Real Estate, Lock It Please, Rescare, Seaborne Airlines, UBS financial service and Working World.
"It's a good thing for our businesses to be together," said Colette Berry of Inscriptions, who actually closed her embroidery enterprise to participate in the Expo — and has done so for two years now.
Berry said most people walking around take the opportunity to check out her company and see what it has to offer. "You get good business from this," she said.
The U.S. Postal Service is demonstrating customers' capability to print out postage stamps online that can be used for direct mailing. "It's the 21st century, so we have to be out of the box and everywhere," Hector Menez of the Postal Service said.
ADT Security Systems has small cameras set up to provide an active display of locations within the Sports and Fitness Center itself and also is showing off its digital data storage system.
Many visitors making their way through the Expo on Friday were getting exposure to companies and services they had not been aware of, and some were even making purchases.
Naila Burkley, a UVI sophomore checking things out, was elated to discover that The Comfort Zone has a display. "I love this kind of stuff because it is so cozy," she said.
The Humane Society of St. Thomas was set up for business with three puppies and a small dog on display along with three kittens, all ready to be adopted. A representative said that the adult dog, a sleek black mix of Chihuahua and something considerably bigger, really needed a home, as she has been at the shelter since May, and with space at a premium, she could soon be euthanized.
The Humane Society takes in 200 animals a month but is able to find homes for only 20 to 25 percent of them, according to Darr Conradson, a Humane Society board member.
Many exhibitors are utilizing the expo as an opportunity to network with other business owners.
Jeffrey Boschulte, who recently started his own architectural firm, said he attended to see if he could partner with other ventures to help his business succeed. "I would look around and see what kind of businesses that are out here," he said, adding that he was considering purchasing some office equipment from the Xerox exhibitor.
As part of the 2003 Business Expo, the Chamber of Commerce scheduled five seminars. The two held on Friday were on Developing Leadership for Extraordinary Performance and Spending Less Time on Technology, More time on Your Business.
The three to be held on Saturday are:
– Customized Mail Marketing, from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
– Mortgages, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
– Managing Your Credit, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Also as part of the expo, the chamber hosted a membership luncheon at noon and a Business After Hours get-together Friday evening.
The chamber has been in business for 76 years, and it has been holding Business Expos since the 1980s. They have been held for the last three years, and there were 11 earlier ones in successive years prior to Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, Aubain said.
The corporate sponsors of this year's expo are FirstBank, Star Consulting and The West Indian Co.

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