Over 40 organizations joined the Miami Lakes Chamber of Commerce for its annual Networking Business Expo on Nov. 2.
Representing the breadth of industries in the area were three colleges; seven community service groups; three non-profits; eight restaurants, suppliers and caterers; banks, credit unions and real estate companies; insurance firms; health clubs and medical providers.
“We love it, we love coming back every year,” Ray Palacios, president and CEO of First Origin Mortgage Lenders said about the 23rd annual expo. “We started with an eight-by-eight [table] and now we are doing this for them,” Palacios said, gesturing to his company’s huge inflatable 360-photo booth with lights and props. Guests had fun, made friends and took home a souvenir.
“We love that this has grown over the years,” Palacios said.
Held at the Miami Lakes Hotel on Main, there was free food, music, DJ entertainment and karaoke.
Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School’s Glee Club sang three songs, including “God Bless the U.S.A.” Jazmin Diaz brought her new beauty business -- Nailing the Blow Out – and was excited to participate.
“This is fantastic to network … the exposure has been amazing, and I’ve made really great connections,” Diaz said.
She was astonished by the variety of companies that participated.
“I’m shocked I didn’t know [about some of these businesses],” Diaz said.
The event drew about 400 people -- exhibitors, their guests and visitors, the chamber said.
That night, it awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Mayte Contreras, a Miami Dade College student who attends classes at the Hialeah campus.
“The best thing is to give back to the community,” Chamber President Fred Senra said during a speech.
Contreras was not the only winner. There were raffles, businesses gave out free novelty items and services and the chamber awarded “Best Table Display” to Hemisphere Title Company.
Hemisphere Title Company President Patricia M. Gonzalez and Vice President Natalee M. Lima took home a $300 prize for their western-themed display that included cowgirl outfits and a balloon arch with cowhide prints.
Prizes for second and third place went to Nailing the Blow Out and First Origin Mortgage Lenders.