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The 13th annual Kent Business, Community and Healthcare Expo is just around the corner. The Kent Area Chamber of Commerce event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the gym and surrounding hallways at Theodore Roosevelt High School,1400 N. Mantua St., Kent.
The expo presents a variety of businesses, restaurants, retail, consultants, home-based and crafters, all into one location in an effort to connect with the community and inform citizens about what is going on throughout the city of Kent.
A highlight this year will be University Hospitals Portage Medical Center's increased participation in the event. UH Portage has been involved with previous expos, but has a more prominent role this year and KACC Executive Director Lori Wemhoff couldn't be more excited.
"What I'm most excited about regarding this year's expo is the change in the name and offerings," Wemhoff said. "The KACC's Business, Community & Healthcare Expo is always a fun event. It's family-friendly and there are businesses of all sizes participating. University Hospital Portage Medical Center will be offering free health screenings: cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. This is a community event, and we want to make sure we are a healthy community. We very much appreciate UH's involvement."
"The reason we are playing a bigger role this year is that we feel strongly about improving quality of health through our community outreach health and wellness programs," said Malavanh Rassavong, manager of Business Development for UH Geauga and Portage medical centers. "Our local chambers and many organizations are doing their part to improve the health and lives of the communities we serve. The impact is stronger when we join together."
UH is just one of 75 businesses that will be a part of this year's expo. Other businesses include Kent Social Services, Acorn Alley, Cutler Real Estate and Hometown Bank, among many others.
Kent State University Athletics is a business sponsor for this year's expo. The KSU mascot, Flash, also will make an appearance during the event.
"Flash will be there from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. doing a meet-and-greet," Wemhoff said. "Kids and grown-ups love seeing Flash. The chamber has a great relationship with KSU Athletics. We collaborate on a number of events throughout the year and work together promoting the various programs to the community as a whole."
Members of the KSU cheerleading team and dance squad will also be on-hand. They will be meeting and greeting people near the entrance of the expo, as well as handing out schedules for KSU sports. They'll also have giveaways. The KSU Athletics table will be located in the front atrium, in front of the trophy case.
TJ Christie, director of revenue enhancement and fan engagement at KSU, said KSU Athletics is thrilled to be a part of the event again this year.
"The KACC business expo is a tremendous community event that KSU Athletics is thrilled to be tied to every year," Christie said. "KACC hits it out of the park every year with the expo, as it's an opportunity for Kent Businesses and Community to interact and see what is available to the City of Kent, while showcasing the beautiful school of Kent Roosevelt."
Band Rio Neon will be back to the expo for the 10th time. The high energy folk and jazz group provides musical entertainment for the Taste of Kent portion of the event. Taste of Kent allows participants to get a taste of what Kent area restaurants have to offer.
For the first time this year, the expo will have an entertainment sponsor; Acorn Alley. Wemhoff said having an entertainment sponsor is very beneficial because it will help cover the costs of Rio Neon performing.
Theodore Roosevelt High School's Distributive Education Clubs of America -- or DECA -- program will once again participate.
Wemhoff said DECA has always been around to provide a helping hand. Marketing Education teacher Brent Pfeiffer heads the DECA operation.
"My students help with the operations aspect of the event," Pfeiffer said. "We will do a lot of the 'heavy lifting' by setting up the tables and chairs for the vendors and the Taste of Kent, as well as well provide assistance for those vendors who need help transporting their products or displays in and out of the venue. Following the completion of the event, the DECA students will also help with breaking down the tables. The EXPO also provides students a perfect venue to promote local initiatives that we are working on, such as 'The Hammy' and the city-wide 'Dine to Donate' that will be occurring the following week."
At the end of the day, optimism is in the air for this year's expo. Everyone is excited to get the event under way. Wemhoff said without the help from so many people and businesses, there is no way the event could be successful today.
"On behalf of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, I am so grateful for the community's support of this annual event," Wemhoff said. "Together we make Kent a great place to work, live, play and do business."