Seacoast chambers cancel annual Business Expo

Late planning, lack of venue force organizers to call off event

The Seacoast Business Expo, an annual September event featuring over 750 area businesses and organizations, has been canceled.

The Seacoast Chamber Alliance, made up of the chambers of commerce in Exeter, Dover, Hampton, Portsmouth, Rochester and Somersworth, made the announcement Thursday via email.

Molly Hodgson, executive director of the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce, said the decision was prompted by a combination of delayed planning and inability to find a venue that suited the size and needs of the event.

“There [are] a variety of logistical pieces that are involved in an event of this magnitude. Some of the places that could accommodate us size-wise weren’t available for one reason or another,” said Hodgson.

She said a variety of logistics, like considering electricity, Wi-Fi and flooring for people wearing business shoes also made it difficult finding one venue that could meet all those requirements.

The Seacoast Chamber Alliance typically convenes in April to determine the venue and date, but it had not met yet this year. Since planning was still in the early stages, there were no sponsors committed or vendors registered.

“We, in our pursuit of a location, got behind on the planning timeline because we were out and about scouting for a location for three or four months,” said Hodgson.

The Seacoast expo is the second-largest event of its kind in the state. The largest one – the Tri-City Expo, a September event organized by the Concord, Manchester and Nashua chambers – is having no such problems.

Valerie Blake, vice president at the Concord Chamber of Commerce, has organized the event for its full 26-year-run.

Blake said she typically books her go-to venue – the Center of New Hampshire Expo Center at the Radisson – a year in advance, though sometimes the Tri-City Expo is pushed back into October due to demand for the space.

Hodgson is focusing on making the 2015 expo innovative and useful for all businesses that attend. “We decided we would spend the fall retooling and rethinking the event, and poll our members [to] see what the best move is for the collaboration.”

She said the Seacoast Chamber Alliance would meet in August and could decide to “have something on a smaller scale, but we aren’t committed to that. We’ll go through the process of surveying members.”

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