DAVIDSON – A full day of cold rain and near-freezing conditions didn’t put a damper on the spirits of those at the Lake Norman Business Expo on March 7 at Davidson College.

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce-hosted event attracted more interest from business than it had in years, chamber president Bill Russell said.

One-hundred seventy exhibitors, including businesses and nonprofits, took part in the expo.

“This is the opportunity for the chamber members to showcase their goods and services,” he said. “You have an opportunity to show 2,000 or 2,500 people in the community everything about your business and tell your story. You may not get this sort of face time going out or making sales calls.”

The business-to-business networking aspect of the expo is also a plus, Randy Marion Buick GMC New Car Sales Manager Douglas Wyrick said.

“I think it’s grown, and the businesses that support it have made it grow and helped it prosper,” said Wyrick, who has been a part of the expo for nine years. “It gets our name out there and in front of people, and we can get people to remember our name when they’re considering buying a car or a truck. It builds a foundation for a relationship with people who can think back and say, ‘I remember seeing them at the expo, I’ll give them a call.’”

Davidson Attorney Bob McIntosh, who has been a part of the expo for a decade, said the event continues to be a viable part of the Lake Norman business community.

“It allows us to network and meet the public in a way we wouldn’t get to by just sitting in the office,” McIntosh said. “It opens us up to the public.”

All sorts of businesses, including local start-ups and larger companies, took part in the expo. Russell said the expo has become much more diverse in recent years, primarily since the late-2000s economic downturn. The recession moved the expo from a real estate-driven event to a region-wide expo that still has a solid grasp on the still-growing real estate industry.

“Last year, we sold out, and we had to add six more booths on top of last year,” Russell said. “What you see here is more a reflection of the diversity of businesses. It’s more of a cross-section of all the businesses we have in the area. Even with the dismal weather, we still had a strong turnout. We’re very pleased.”

McIntosh said the vast number of organizations present at the expo help make it a successful event on an annual basis. The increase in small businesses at the expo also opens it up to a wider audience.

“I think the diversity we have in the business base in north Mecklenburg has continued to grow and will continue to grow,” McIntosh said.

“That makes the whole situation more healthy. Everything’s more dependent on one industry, like real estate or banking. We’ve had a lot of other industries step up, provide jobs and provide money for community functions that help make it a more stable base.”