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Businesses mingle at LaGrange-Troup County Chamber expo

By Tyler H. Jones

tjones@civitasmedia.com

Lamar McKeen, left, owner of McKeen Realty, chats with Ken Bearden of LaGrange during the 2015 Resource Troup Expo at the Callaway Conference Center on Fort Drive. The expo brings together local business owners and residents for networking opportunities.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2015/10/web1_WEB1007Expo1.jpgLamar McKeen, left, owner of McKeen Realty, chats with Ken Bearden of LaGrange during the 2015 Resource Troup Expo at the Callaway Conference Center on Fort Drive. The expo brings together local business owners and residents for networking opportunities.

Tyler H. Jones | Daily News

LaGRANGE — In America’s greatest little city, it’s all about relationships.

That’s why the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday hosted its annual Resource Troup Expo at the Callaway Conference Center on Fort Drive.

“This is all about our members,” chamber President Page Estes said. “The Expo is a chance for businesses to network with other businesses in a professional environment with a lot of fun. It also gives those same businesses the chance to network with community members as well.”

More than 60 businesses turned out for the event, and the crowd mingled among booths while learning about local companies and nabbing free promotional gear and food.

“It’s a chance for businesses and community members to see exactly what Troup has to offer,” Estes said.

More than 1,000 people join together for the expo each year, mixing businesses with residents across Troup County and beyond.

Shirley Pennebaker, executive director of Camp Academia on Vernon Road next to LaGrange Academy, represented one of the businesses showcased at the expo. Her company offers what they call “Brain Jogging” studies to help people with mental problems overcome and move forward with their lives, she said standing behind her booth at the expo.

“Brain jogging is a cognitive enhancement program,” she said. “So, children who have a learning disability do not have to keep a learning disability. If they brain jog, it assists them with toning their brain for learning.”

She said her organization, which operates both for-profit and nonprofit arms, has helped people of all ages and backgrounds.

“One boy came with a learning disability and this year was accepted to West Point (Military Academy),” she said. “We’re not tutors. Instead, we train the brain to learn, so they overcome their learning disabilities. We also work with stroke victims and people who have onset of dementia. Our youngest student is 4 and our oldest is 81, so it’s all ages.”

For Pennebaker, showing up at the expo was an opportunity to tell more people about her business and grow her networking circle.

“It’s important to get the message out that we’re here and children can get help — significant help,” she said. “A lot of people have said, ‘oh, you’re Brain Jogging,’ and we say, ‘yes, that’s us.’ They tell us they’ve been hearing about us.”

Getting the word out can be crucial to growing a business, the chamber said in a press release. To help local companies do just that, the chamber partnered with search-engine giant Google to help companies register listings online.

“It’s estimated that more than 95 percent of Americans look online for where to shop for goods and services, but less than half can be found on the Internet,” chamber president Estes said. “With Google’s help, we can put LaGrange on the virtual map and make sure all of our local businesses can be properly located online.”

To help businesses register, the chamber set up a booth at the expo where companies could fill out the online forms to show up on Google’s listings.

Anyone seeking more information about how to network with local businesses or join the Chamber of Commerce may call 706-884-8671 or visit www.lagrangechamber.org.

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached by calling 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.