The floor of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston was packed with vendors and visitors to 2017’s Maine B2B Trade Show. (Sun Journal file photo)

The following was originally published Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in The Buzz.

Over the next six months, Lewiston will play host to both a new business trade show and a longtime-but-rebranded business trade show.

First: The rebranded trade show.

The Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council ran its Maine B2B networking event for 22 years before LAEGC became an organization within the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce earlier this year.

The chamber rebranded the event as the LA Metro Marketplace and moved it from the Androscoggin Bank Colisee to the Bates Mill Complex. It added a morning component for students, folded in the chamber’s annual job fair, changed the hours and added a request for a $5 donation to the chamber scholarship fund at the door in the afternoon.

“We’re doing it in June like (LAEGC) always did,” Chamber President Beckie Conrad said. “Yes, we’ve made some changes, but it’s still the B2B.”

The event, this year on June 7, needed updating, she said.

“I had three more sponsors sign up yesterday,” Conrad said. “People are seeing it as efficient, effective, exciting. I have businesses signing up who have never participated in the B2B because of the youth part. I have folks coming out saying this is the change we were looking for.”

Then, in September: the new trade show.

Local trade show promoter Travis Dow had organized the Maine B2B the past two years for the LAEGC. Last week, he announced he would offer the new Maine Business to Business Trade Show on Sept. 6 at the Colisee.

Entry will be free with a business card, as it historically had been at the Maine B2B, and the hours will be similar, though he’s adding a VIP luncheon midday with programming and a cocktail hour for networking in the afternoon.

Dow believes people liked the old format.

“I’ve gotten a number of emails from people who say they’re excited to hear about it,” he said. “Right off the bat, in the first day, we had four companies sign up.”

“I’m not trying to compete with them in any way,” Dow added. “I think anybody that’s doing something that can bring more excitement to the area and create connections between businesses — I’m a chamber member myself — (is a good thing.) They’re doing a great job and this isn’t to compete with them.”

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