BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor Civic Center was the scene of some serious networking Tuesday, as the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce presented its 2011 Business Expo.
Florists mingled with bankers. Telecommunications company representatives mixed with restaurateurs. Consumers browsed among dozens of booths and displays.
This year’s Business Expo showcased many area businesses, including financial institutions, electronics vendors, wellness and personal care providers, insurance and telecommunications companies, and leaders in the hospitality and entertainment industries.
Some of the more than 2,000 people who attended the expo said they came for an opportunity to network. Others came to show off what they do and check out what others are doing.
“It’s a great opportunity to show the wonderful Maine products that we carry,” Jennifer Williamson, events coordinator at Winterport Winery, said early Tuesday afternoon.
Among the products displayed in the winery’s exhibit were some of its newest products — Taxi Cab cabernet sauvignon, the winery’s first grape-based wine, and its Meadow Road wheat bread, flavored with its beer of that name.
Perhaps the most exotic product, however, was its Bay Brew Ice Cream, made with stout ale.
“It has chocolate and coffee undertones,” Williamson said, adding that with 18 percent butterfat, the frozen treat is about as creamy as it gets.
The winery was one of nearly 90 businesses that took part in the 2011 Business Expo.
John Porter, the Chamber’s executive director, said the expo was brought back last year after a hiatus of several years at the request of the region’s business community. And this year’s expo was bigger and better than last year’s, he said.
With several hours left to go before the event’s end, Porter said attendance was brisk.
“I know we’re ahead of last year,” he said, adding that the 2010 expo drew almost 2,000.
There also were at least a dozen new exhibitors, many bringing along high-tech display tools.
“Everybody’s upped their game. There’s some really, really nice displays,” he said.
“The conversations, the networking that’s going on — it’s wonderful,” said Julia Munsey, who was wearing two hats during the event, one as spokeswoman for the premier sponsor, Oxford Networks, and the other as chairwoman of the Chamber’s board of directors.
In addition to area business people, the expo attracted consumers who wanted to see some of the latest in products and services provided by area businesses. The expo also brought out job hunters.
Steven Beaulieu, hotel sales and banquet manager for Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway, said that by early afternoon, he’d been approached by seven or eight people interested in working at the Bangor complex and provided them with contact information for the company’s human resources department.
Sarah Joy, manager for the Bangor branch of Bonney Staffing Centers, said the expo was proving a great place to make connections with potential clients and employees.
Some of the areas in which the 30-year-old company is matching workers with jobs are manufacturing, accounting and the medical field, she said.
Porter said new elements, including seminars and a “speed networking” event, proved popular and could become a staple for future expos.