MEXICO – The River Valley area includes all kinds of businesses, services, educational opportunities and talented artists. But not everybody knows that.

That’s why a River Valley Business Expo is planned for September.

“We want to showcase everything the River Valley has to offer. There are many things people just don’t know about,” said Rosie Bradley, chairwoman of the River Valley Business Expo Committee.

She, along with 15 other committee members, have been working for more than a year to pull the two-day event together. The trouble is, many businesses and other organizations in the region have not yet stepped up to participate.

About 35 have signed on so far, but the goal is to reach about 150.

On Wednesday, members of the committee met with more than a dozen business owners to explain the importance of participation.

Nearly 3,000 people are expected to attend the event; many from the area, others from throughout the state.

“Where else can you get this kind of exposure?” asked Bradley.

Cindy Giroux, another committee member and employee of Oxford Hills Federal Credit Union, knows the value of business expos. She has participated in several.

“Business expos get your business involved. Businesses can support each other,” she said.

Some local businesspeople believe that because they’ve been in the area for years, everyone knows them and they don’t need the exposure.

“Their competitors will probably be there,” said Bradley. “Displaying what they have to offer is a way to show their dedication and their support for the community.”

Yvonne Allen, another committee member added, “Being there also shows that they are proud to be in business in the area.”

The committee believes the goal of 150 will be met by the time September rolls around. But to ensure this, they plan to talk with potential exhibitors one-on-one over the next few weeks. They also are willing to meet with business owners in some of the smaller towns in the area.

Any business, nonprofit or organization that does business in any of the 10 River Valley towns can participate. And anyone that is a member of the River Valley Chamber of Commerce, even if they are located outside the River Valley, may participate as well.

Advertising for the event will be spread throughout western and central Maine and in eastern New Hampshire.

Adding to the display of what the River Valley has to offer will be a huge exhibit by the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition that will include art works, medical information, data on recreational opportunities and other aspects of the community usually showcased during the organization’s annual “Living Well in Valley” fair.

Bradley and other committee members believe the time has come to show off the area. She has attended other business expos in other parts of the state and has learned of their benefits. The area is also changing, she believes.

“We want to help turn things around. We’re not just a mill town,” she said.

“We’ve got to get out there and let people know what we have to offer,” said Giroux.

Those interested in participating, at costs ranging from $40 for nonprofits to $100 and up for businesses, may contact the River Valley Chamber of Commerce at 364-3241.

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