Leaderless chamber draws a crowd to business expo

aspecht@newsobserver.comJune 20, 2013 

— Sarah Price lifted her purple sno-cone skyward, statue-of-liberty style.

Though Price was, indeed, that pleased with grape-flavored ice – you could tell from the color of her face – the 4-year-old’s pose signaled that she needed her hand free to sample another sweet. After all, one of the ladies from Knightdale Seafood and Barbecue was holding a free sample of homemade banana pudding and smiling Price’s way.

“She’s had a blast out here today,” said Sarah’s mother Teresa Price. “We saw the signs on (highway) 64 and thought we’d just stop in.”

Sarah and Teresa Price were two of many to stop by Knightdale High School on June 18, where the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce held its 19th annual business expo. There, new faces in the business community eclipsed any evidence that the 2013 expo was, in fact, organized by a chamber that’s currently operating without an executive director for the first time in 20 years.

Kent Misegades, for instance, manned Thales Academy’s first time booth at the expo. Thales Academy, a private school with more than 850 students at campuses in Apex, Raleigh and Wake Forest, hopes to open a campus in Knightdale by July 2015. Misegades, director of Thales Academy in Apex, said his booth garnered more interest than he expected.

“I thought I might be able to get some work done, but have found it futile,” he said. “That’s a good thing.”

The folks at Kids Educational Centers booth had similar success. Dare Woodruff is executive director of the organization, which teaches young children. The recession took its toll on the center’s success at the expo in prior years, but this year’s turnout pleased Woodruff. “I think we may have had more people this year,” Woodruff said.

The Kids Educational Center booth was named Best in Show after Woodruff and her colleagues adorned it with neon-colored curtains and pinwheels. They were also handing out lollipops and inviting children to make cotton candy cut-outs.

Perhaps the sugar and zazz – not the improved economy – prompted thicker foot-traffic?

“Maybe,” Woodruff said. “It’s hard to tell.”

Either way, she’ll trade a piece of candy for a new client any day of the week.

Specht: 919-829-4826

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