Optimism abound as hundreds flock to ‘Business Expo’

Much like the sizzling weather, the atmosphere around Longford town over the weekend could not have been more welcoming.

Much like the sizzling weather, the atmosphere around Longford town over the weekend could not have been more welcoming.

From elegantly decorated stands to the more plainly furnished displays, you name it, the county’s first ever ‘Business Expo’ had it.

Designed to instil a quiet sense of self-determination from a commercial standpoint as well as all-round enterprise, the two-day spectactle appeared to tick both of those boxes as spectators turned out in their hundreds.

Apart from the 120 exhibitors, there was as much interest directed at the event’s chosen location-the still vacant Longford Town Centre.

While observers marvelled at the building’s spacious interior, dozens of others could be seen patiently browsing over stalls and chatting to business holders.

Looking more than a tad contented, Longford Chamber of Commerce President, Seamus Butler could barely hide his delight as crowds breezed past.

“You know there was people waiting outside this morning, before we even opened the doors,” he revealed, sporting a broad grin.

Having officially got under way last Friday, the two-day fair also featured some of the country’s most promient entrepreneurs.

Rousing speeches from the likes of Ann Heraty of recruitment firm CPL Resources and XSP chief executive Brendan Farrell - both Longford natives - provided the backdrop for what was to come.

Both, like many others, spoke candidly of the need for businesses to stay positive in what has become an increasingly volatile economic environment.

It was a message which likewise seemed to capture the imagination of those present. “I never thought I would see anything like this in Longford,” said one observer, as she filed through the NAMA-owned building on Saturday afternoon.

Businesses were just as taken by the event. “It was very worthwhile,” added a locally based retailer. “We made some good contacts and got a positive response from customers.”

Much of that feedback, no doubt, will become apparent over the weeks and months ahead. For others, including another of its main organisers, Michael Nevin, the occasion could not have gone any better.

“We showed that a small county like Longford can put on an event as impressive as anything you might see in Dublin or elsewhere,” said the Longford County Enterprise chief executive.

A future dictum, perhaps, for what some business figures have branded: ‘Longford doing it for themselves’?

See report on Page 20