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Mokena Business Expo a Success, Organizers Said

The first Mokena Chamber of Commerce business expo to be held at the park district's The Oaks fitness center was a success, organizers said.

Big crowds and a large number of businesses made Saturday's business expo and health fair at a success, organizers said.

"I guess it's a way for the community to meet the businesses," event chair Ellen Bailey said. "It's a one-stop shop."

The event ran from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at The Oaks. In total, 72 local organizations hosted booths where they got to meet with potential customers, clients and partners.

This is the first year the expo was held at The Oaks.

Lisa Johnson came from Joliet with her two daughters for the event. She had heard about it from a co-worker.

"The kids wanted the candy and I wanted to look at the businesses," Johnson said.

Local author Matt Galik was on hand signing copies of his recently published book of Mokena history, Mokena: Images of America.

"It's been very positive," Galik said. "All the people that have been coming up to me and saying how much they loved (the book)."

For the past three years, the business expo was held at . Before that, it was held at ; before that, at .

"We kind of outgrew (MES)," Bailey said.

That's when the park district approached the chamber about moving the event to The Oaks.

"I always wanted to have it here because of the space we have and, of course, to promote The Oaks," park board President Dennis Bagdon said.

Bailey described the park district's idea as "awesome."

"They took us up on it and here we are," park district Executive Director Jim Romanek said. "It's been a great crowd."

Romanek, who was named executive director last year, said the district is trying to reach out and partner with other local groups and governments.

"We've definitely seen a different approach with the new administration, (with) Jim Romanek," Mokena Mayor Joe Werner said.

Although Bailey said the initial business expo at the Pipe Fitters had 110 vendors, in recent years the expo has been a much smaller affair. The 72 vendors Saturday morning marked a big increase over recent years.

"What I'm real happy about is to see the uptick in the number of businesses here," Werner said.

The park district rescheduled its yearly art show to coincide with the influx of foot traffic to The Oaks on Saturday.

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