October 23, 2021

Showcase to put on show

Businesses, organizations to display their wares Saturday

Photos by Catherine Wilde/contributing photographer

SUNY Cortland seniors, interns with the Cortland Crush baseball team, set up a booth ahead of this weekend’s Showcase. The Cortland County Chamber of Commerce event is in its 35th year.

Molly Riley was straightening pillows, throwing blankets over chairs and setting a table Thursday morning, in anticipation of company this weekend.

The crowd could be large, 2,000 people are expected, but Riley wasn’t prepping her living room, she was preparing her display for this weekend’s Showcase.

A new member of the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, Riley is bringing her Homer-based interior decorating business — Molly Riley Interiors — to the Showcase for the first time this year.

Formerly called the Business Showcase, the Showcase is in its 35th year, said Cortland County Chamber of Commerce Director Bob Haight. The rebranding came out of discussions that began at last year’s event of how to better reflect the wide array of community agencies and services that are represented at the Showcase, not just businesses.

Visitors to the Showcase on Saturday will learn about new restaurants and manufacturers expanding, see karate and gymnastic presentations, and see which businesses are hiring.

Tonight’s event is a Preview Party specifically for chamber members while Saturday’s event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

What to expect

Visitors to the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex on Saturday will arrive to:

• A Cortland Works job fair — balloons will mark the booths of businesses that are hiring.

• A new layout. Lower partitions give the venue a more open feel, said Chamber of Commerce Director Bob Haight.

• A new sound system.

The 90 booths are filled, though many organizations occupy more than one booth, and the entertainment space has been moved from the center of the space to the back to avoid crowding.

Entertainment will be provided by Signature Dance Studio, Bailey’s Karate, YMCA Gymnastics and Canine Lummel.

Riley had a 10-by-10 foot booth. She wanted a larger space but came on board after most of the slots were full.

Riley does both residential and commercial interior decorating and hopes the event will be a good way to get her business attention from a larger segment of the community.

She’s one of 68 new members of the chamber, said Haight — calling 2018 a year of tremendous growth. It had a net gain of 50 members — the lowest number of non-retention on record.

“The best chambers in the country have about 90 percent retention and we started with 430-something and only lost 18,” Haight said.

The Showcase is designed to do just what it says — show residents what the community has to offer, he said.

Adjacent to Riley, Ana Mc- Connell, treasurer of the Cortland Crush baseball team, was overseeing a group of SUNY Cortland seniors as they set up a tent.

The students are all sports management majors, interns for the Cortland Crush in their senior year, selling tickets, learning marketing strategies and event planning.

The Showcase will help get the Cortland Crush exposure, McConnell said.

“We want people to know we’re here and invite them to games and let them know it’s a family thing and they can keep coming back,” she said.