By Gerhard Schneibel

The Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s first Business Expo drew 80 exhibitors and 500 guests March 6 at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North on Concourse Parkway.

The Chamber board’s chair-elect, Debbie Goldman, conceived of the event and led a group of about seven organizers. Planning began last summer.

“It’s a huge success,” she said during the expo. “In today’s economy, are you kidding me? We were turning down exhibitors today and yesterday, which is incredible for your first event.”

The Chamber had planned for about 50 local companies to exhibit and was glad to receive many more applications than expected, she said.

Goldman said the expo has an important place in a recession.

“The synergy in this room, the excitement in this room, and the understanding that in this economy you need to keep your business in the community is incredible,” she said. “An event is only as good as the people who planned it, and our committee was outstanding.”

Kent Mitchell of Rockbridge Bank and Scott Woodside of Arlington Memorial Park took time to talk business.

“There are a lot of great companies here. It’s a great representation of what good businesses we have here in Sandy Springs,” Mitchell said. “It’s always fun to network and meet other people, to see what other people are up to.”

“It’s good to talk to other businesses,” Woodside said.

Christopher Russ of Russ Global Management said: “I love the crowd. There are a lot of people here, and there’s some great image here, too. Everybody’s talking and networking and exchanging business cards.”

Neil Wiesenfeld of Adman Productions attended with his daughter, Sheri, who works with him.

“We’ve had very good traffic,” he said. “We’re new to the Chamber, and it’s all about who you know, not what you know, and we’re meeting some great people.”

Brandi Weaver of AAA was at a booth and said the setup of the “environment and culture” was “doing exactly what it’s intended to do. People know why they’re coming here.”

Linda Bain of the Sandy Springs Conservancy and Bob Miller of the National Park Service spoke with Chris Lambrecht of Intelligent Marketing Solutions about the bridge they hope will be built across the Chattahoochee River near Morgan Falls Park.

The bridge would “enhance the success of the business community in an indirect way,” Bain said. “This becomes an attraction for tourism, and it increases the quality of life for Sandy Springs.”

Lambrecht said, “I’m a naturalist by hobby, and so I have a natural interest that these folks succeed.”