Business expo sees growth and strong support despite challenge of pandemic | Business News

BELOIT — Not even a pandemic and a snow storm could stop this year’s Black Women in Business Expo in Beloit, with the event drawing its largest number of vendors ever on Saturday.

The annual event aims to shine a spotlight on women-owned Black businesses and coincides each year with Black “Herstory” Day, an event organized by the expo’s creator Vickie Lynn to celebrate the achievements of Black women.

Businesses of all kinds were on display Saturday, from health and wellness products, clothing, books, apparel, jewelry, photography, art and more. Entry-fee donations from the event will go to the Center of Hope and New Life Ministries International in Beloit.

This year’s expo, with over 50 vendors, almost didn’t happen due to COVID-19, Lynn said. But organizers rallied to make the event socially-distanced and masks were required.

“We were really unsure about it at first, but then we came together and I kept hearing from people in the community that said we could do it safely. I think with 2020 being the way it was, it’s important now more than ever to support small businesses.”

Lynn said the sense of community is at the heart of why she organized the event in the first place.

“This is about bringing everyone together,” Lynn said. “This is for women and I want to be part of helping to bring us together.”

Lynn added that she didn’t expect the expo to grow as quickly as it has, from starting out at two smaller venues before hosting this year’s event at the Eclipse Center.

“It’s been incredible to see the support we have built so quickly,” Lynn said.

Paquita Purnell of Blessed Divine Creations helped organize the expo and said holding the event this year only made since to help support pandemic-stricken small businesses.

“This shows the community support and that we’re there for one another,” Purnell said. “It’s incredible to see it all come together.”

Robert G. Mull

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