Approximately 700 Smith Mountain Lake residents and visitors engaged with local business professionals representing 85 companies at the 18th Annual SML Business Expo on May 6 at EastLake Community Church.

The event took place for the second straight year in the gymnasium of EastLake Community Church, located at 1201 Timberwood Lane in Moneta, and was sponsored by The Smith Mountain Eagle, F&S Building Innovations and B99.9 Turner Media Group (WZBB-FM).

Erin Stanley, member relations and events director for the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, said it felt great to have the expo back to full capacity and under more familiar conditions.

“The expo is always a popular event at Smith Mountain Lake, and we are so pleased that people felt comfortable coming out and engaging with a wide range of SML area businesses,” Stanley said.

Free and open to the public, the expo brought together local business owners, job seekers and interested local residents from throughout Franklin, Bedford, and Pittsylvania Counties. It allowed exhibitors in diverse industries to share information on their products and services, answer questions, offer demonstrations, provide materials and network with other business professionals. In addition, vendors highlighted job openings and spoke to prospective applicants.

It was a great opportunity for business owners, local residents, and others who attended to get a feel for the growth and long-term potential of the Smith Mountain Lake region and learn more about the local region’s economic development and small business community. The various booths provided easy access for participants to move throughout the expo, meeting with the many small business owners and learning more about what services they have to offer.

“We definitely saw a lot of conversations happening between business owners and attendees,” Stanley said. “It was exciting because strengthening the economic environment of our community is at the core of the chamber’s mission.”

After being put on hiatus for a year back in 2020 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SML Regional Chamber brought back the annual expo in October 2021 at the new location at Eastlake Community Church. It had previously been held at the Franklin County Family YMCA at Smith Mountain Lake. This year’s event resumed the traditional spring timing of the Business Expo.

“We were so thankful for the indoor space, not just for the ease and beauty of this space but because it really was the perfect venue for such a rainy day,” Stanley said. “The church mall and gymnasium offered tons of space for vendors to spread out and display their products and services to attendees. We had a lot of positive community interaction and gave away tons of door prizes.”

Stanley said more than $2,000 worth of door prizes were given away, including a full-size propane grill (The Realty Group Team - Keller Williams), a “Golfer’s Dream” gift basket including a one-hour lesson with the golf pro (Mariners Landing), as well as multiple gift cards and potted plants.

Attendees also had food options.

“We had two food trucks on site — Dirty Water Dogs SML and Chatham Slush — along with Smith Mountain Lake Coffee House inside EastLake Church,” Stanley said, “so there were plenty of convenient options for vendors and attendees to grab food and drinks throughout the afternoon.”

Some of the industries that participated in this year’s SML Business Expo included financial planning services, health and wellness services, home and garden services, home improvement and construction services, hospitality, media production services, medical services, real estate brokerage services and travel assistance services, among many others. A vast range of local volunteer and civic organizations also were on hand, providing guests with an opportunity to learn about ways in which they can give back to the local community.

For more information, contact Erin Stanley at 540-721-1203 or estanley@visitsmithmountainlake.com.

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