Energy Expo will combine with chamber event in 2012

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
Elk River’s Energy Expo will be merging with the Business Expo in 2012.
The combined event will be called the Business and Energy Expo and will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, March 25 at Elk River High School.
“We’ll go forward as a blended event,” said Debbi Rydberg, executive director of the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce.
She said the chamber is excited for the opportunity to embrace the energy-related businesses, and believes the merger will bring value to both the attendees and the businesses that participate.
“We are Energy City much like we are a river town, and this is one way that as a business organization we can embrace that,” Rydberg said.
The city of Elk River has sponsored an Energy Expo since 2007 as part of the its Energy City initiative. But the program faced possible budget cuts this year and, at one point, Mayor John Dietz suggested discontinuing the Energy Expo and having an “energy wing” at the chamber Business Expo instead.
In the end the City Council adopted a 2012 budget that left the Energy City program  and Energy Expo intact. But the Elk River Energy City Commission has decided to try combining the Energy Expo with the Business Expo for one year to see how it goes, according to Elk River Environmental Administrator Rebecca Haug.
Typically about 30 energy-related exhibitors have participated in the Energy Expo, Haug said. The plan at this time is to have a section at the Business and Energy Expo devoted to energy-related businesses, she said.
In addition, ECFE will have energy-related programs at the Expo. And, District 728 Community Education’s EdVenture Club will have an energy-related event as part of the Expo.
Vance Zehringer, chair of the Elk River Energy City Commission, said attendance at the Energy Expo has been averaging around 600 a year and not increasing as he had hoped.
Merging with the Business Expo will give the Energy Expo exposure to a larger audience. Zehringer hopes it also will still allow the Energy Expo to maintain its identity.
“I think it will work,” Zehringer said.