Networking is the name of the game at Expo

Business Expo is booming: Michelle DeSimone (right) and Christy McCabe at the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Expo on May 8. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

Hundreds of people turned out at Holy Family University on May 8 to mingle, chat, network and nosh at the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s 91st Business Expo. They also got to meet former Eagles great Ron Jaworski.

More than 100 businesses and nonprofits greeted the event’s attendees with information, freebies and nibbles inside the Frankford Avenue school’s gym. A good cross-section of businesses was represented — printers to hardware stores to Hooters to an arena football team, the Philadelphia Soul.

Networking is, of course, one reason to set up a table at the annual expo, said chamber president Al Taubenberger.

“Making connections is what it’s all about,” he said. “This is how you grow your businesses … and it’s also where you meet new customers,” he added.

Gavin Wolfe, co-owner of Three Monkeys, was doing that big time. The aromas of the James Street restaurant’s chicken wings and braised beef ravioli drew a crowd to his table.

The feedback from those who sampled the wings and ravioli as well as the sweet “monkey bread” was pretty good, he said.

Touting a business wasn’t the only business going on at the expo. Trying to help business was on at least one agenda.

Curtis Gregory, director of the city’s Office of Business Services, and Sam Chueh, an OBS business service manager, worked the room, talking up what they could to help entrepreneurs set up their businesses in Philadelphia — and thrive.

OBS, set up to help business people adjust to the city’s taxes, forms and regulations, is a surprise to some, Gregory and Chueh said.

“I didn’t know you’re there,” is a comment both men said they heard frequently.

Taubenberger said almost 500 attended the expo, and there were some dignitaries among them. State Reps. John Sabatina and Ed Neilson were there along with the consul generals of Germany and Mexico, the deputy consul of Israel and a trade specialist from the U.S. Commerce Department.

International packaging company Crown Holdings was the expo’s title sponsor. Other sponsors included Nazareth Hospital, Holy Family University, 3rd Fed Bank, Aria Health, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, Wawa, Sandmeyer Steel Co. and Clear Channel Outdoor. ••

Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215–354–3110 or