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Business fair comes of age

Thu., March 29, 2007

Patrick Burch said potential customers were knocking at the door of his new bio-medical treatment center in Spokane Valley before the company hung up its sign.

And as a new member of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, Burch was able to introduce his business in front of 1,000 other members.

“We’ve gotten one of our best clients through the chamber and they’re now championing our cause,” Burch saidWednesday during the chamber’s 5th Annual Business Fair at the Mirabeau Park Hotel.

The supportive environment — aided by business growth in the Valley — has contributed to a doubling in participation by exhibitors since the fair debuted in 2003 at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. A festive atmosphere akin to an open-air market filled the hotel ballrooms Wednesday as 80 regional exhibitors showcased their companies.

Exhibitors included banks, boutiques, Costco, the Valley library, American Medical Response, colleges, nursing homes and theme parks.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to get to know each other and to learn about our businesses,” said Eldonna Shaw, president and CEO of the chamber.

Organizers expected up to 500 folks to file by the bright green tables, chatting up owners, collecting brochures and filling bags with gifts, like candy bars from Humanix personnel recruiters and gift-wrapped Hershey’s chocolate, courtesy of Heart in Hand, a custom gift basket designer.

Nearby, Burch introduced a visitor to the tools of Neurotherapy Northwest, the treatment center he co-founded late last year. Using biofeedback and relaxation techniques, he said, clients suffering from chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder or just a lousy golf game can learn to achieve peak performance.

“It helps you get your heart and mind connected. That removes the roadblocks that prevent us from performing at our optimum,” said Burch.

Among those most likely to benefit from the therapy, said Burch, are people “who are at their wit’s end. Their meds aren’t working, they’re going to counseling and they’re looking to see what else is out there to get them on the right path” to healing.

Burch said he enjoys the easy-going atmosphere and people of the Valley, which is also home for him and his colleague. With the arrival of warmer weather, more people have stopped in to ask about treatment options.

One aisle over, Samantha Gilstrap invited passersby to book meal-making sessions at her business, Dream Dinners.

“All the shopping, preparation and chopping are done for you. And in less than two hours you can have a month’s worth of meals,” said Gilstrap, a wife and mother who ditched a high-pressure corporate job to run the franchise.

“They’re very affordable, about $2.90 a serving. You can’t begin to shop yourself and create quality dishes for that. We’re not making casseroles,” she said, referring to April’s entrée options like pork chops with pecan rice pilaf, Italian stuffed shells and Santa Fe chicken fajitas.

Close to 300 customers a month now flock to the storefront kitchen, she said.

“I’m connecting instantly with families and giving them their time back.”


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