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Women in Business Expo provides chance to network locally; ABWA event helps raise business

By Staff | May 23, 2008

By DREW WINCHESTER, “mailto:dwinchester@breezenewspapers.com”>dwinchester@breezenewspapers.com

Cape Coral business women came out to meet, greet and share their experiences during the inaugural Women in Business Expo, sponsored by the Cape Coral Caloosa Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association and Breeze Newspapers.

A diverse array of Cape Coral businesses were represented at the event. From restaurants to law offices, from video production to real estate, business women in the community showed their support for each other, regardless of the venture, in the first of what they hope to be many expos to come.

Darlene Starner, of Dinner By Design, said she decided to be a part of the expo to reinforce the ABWA’s presence in the community.

“I’ve been a member of the ABWA for two years,” Starner said. “I wanted to support the organization and support our business.

As the only take-home meal service in the Cape, Starner felt it was crucial to get the word out about her business, which has been open since July.

Leigh Strand, owner and operator of Grill It Yourself Inc., felt the same, saying that she was using the expo as a way to increase business, which has been down as of late.

I’m here for the exposure,” Strand said. “My shop has no foot traffic and I thought I might see more traffic here.

Grill It Yourself Inc. has been building custom outdoor kitchens for the last seven years. Strand said her business has taken a serious hit with the decline in the real estate market, but she is trying to do her best to roll with the changes. One way was to join the ABWA.

We’re just trying to change with the change,” Strand added. “I’ve been a member of the ABWA less than year, and I love it.

ABWA President and Woman of the Year Debbie Cullen was pleased with the turnout.

She said it was a great opportunity to bring together Cape business women from diverse occupations, so they can showcase their talents and network with other professional women.

Cullen added that it was also the perfect chance for people in the community to get to know not only Cape business women, but the ABWA.

There’s been a lot of people curious about the ABWA in Cape Coral and why we put this on,” Cullen said. “It’s been a great night. We’ve had a lot of traffic, both young and old. We have a very diverse group of women here.

ABWA member and Breeze Newspapers representative Judy Bowler thought the event was a great success. She added that Breeze Newspapers already has its eye on next year.

It’s a great thing the Breeze sponsored this event. This is just the first of many to come, and next year we’ll be expanding,” Bowler said.

For more information on the Cape Coral Caloosa Chapter of the ABWA, contact President Debbie Cullen at 233-2322 or e-mail deb@CapeDeb.com.

For more information on the national ABWA, visit the Web site: abwa.org.