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PLATTSBURGH — People squeezed through the crowd, stopping to heft vacuums and take pictures with fake dreadlocks.

They sipped lemonade and coffee and ate Girl Scout cookies and chocolates.

They gathered information from the Girl Scouts and listened to music as they pedaled the calories away before spinning the game wheel and trying their luck at the bean-bag toss.

“This event is one of the most popular and important throughout the year,” said Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak at the North Country Chamber of Commerce 2012 Business Expo held at the Plattsburgh State Field House.

This brings together the majority of local businesses, and I always feel the optimism when speaking to people,” Kasprzak said.

Sponsors for the 24th annual event included Buck Supply & Distribution, Curtis Lumber, Denton Publications and News Channel 5.

“The annual Business Expo is a chance for companies to showcase products and services,” said Jody Parks, executive vice president at the Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses can show people what they can do for them. Sometimes people forget about the opportunities businesses offer.”

The event has grown each year, consistently filling up, with 186 booths this year.

The event also allows businesses to network with each other, and it provides them an opportunity to thank existing customers while meeting new ones.

“This is a good representation of all the businesses in the community,” Parks said. “A lot of people don’t realize how much is going on in the community. This event is a great chance to see what is going on, and it is a ton of fun because of the door prizes and games.”

Jason Bell agreed and loves the event.

He attends every year to learn what is in the area for businesses and to possibly walk away with some cool prizes.

“I love seeing all the people,” Bell said.

Representatives from the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York said the Business Expo is vital in helping them spread their message and raise awareness about their organization.

The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York serves roughly 1,100 girls in the three-county region Cyndi Tucker covers.

“I work with 400 volunteers delivering the message from the council,” said Tucker, Regional Manager for the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. “A lot of people think the Girl Scouts are gone, and this raises awareness of Girl Scouts in the community.”

The Girl Scouts is always looking for more volunteers, Tucker said. The organization provides many opportunities girls otherwise would not have access to, she pointed out.

“Whatever a girl wants to do,” Tucker said, “she can do it in the Girl Scouts.”

Sarah Hardy, a strategic partner for the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York, said she is all about youth and feels the organization offers girls a “real-life” program. Girls need guidance, Hardy said, and the Girl Scouts provides programs that help them build confidence.

Several people stopped by the Girl Scouts’ booth throughout the day, as well as at the many other stations at the business expo.

“This is such a great opportunity for businesses in the area to network and connect with each other,” said Esteban Munoz, relationship manager for Key Bank. “It provides a forum to increase the exposure of local businesses in the area.”

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