Recognizing that the winds of change could be blowing toward Sylvania, the local chamber of commerce has added an energy fair to its annual Business Expo.
Invitations to be part of the expo are being extended to solar, wind, and geothermal suppliers; to those who sell energy-efficient products, and those who arrange "free" financing for energy improvements, said Pat Nowak, executive director of the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce. The business expo is sponsored by the chamber.
"We thought we should have a section of the expo devoted to the coming wave" of alternative energy sources, she said. Businesses and homeowners are going to face energy costs as an issue just like the health-care cost issue, she predicted.
"Businesses and residents are going to have to look at all sorts of alternative ways to save money."
Slated for March 31 at the Sylvania Sports and Exhibition Center at Tam-O-Shanter, the Showcase Sylvania interactive exposition is designed to give businesses a chance to show off their products and services. The event also serves as an educational tool for local residents to learn about the variety of retail businesses, organizations, and service-oriented companies located in the Sylvania area.
The expo's new energy fair will give businesses and consumers a chance to learn about new products and services that can reduce utility costs, said Ms. Nowak, who noted that Sylvania is exploring alternative energy options.
Councilman Keith Haddad, chairman of council's utilities and environment committee, said that including an energy fair in the business expo is a good thing because it will help to "make businesses more aware of what they can do to conserve energy," and people can learn how they might participate in helping the city become a municipal utility.
In October, council approved an ordinance that authorized the establishment and operation of a municipal electric utility by the city. Council's utilities and environment committee will meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 3 in council chambers to discuss possible options for municipal power, Mr. Haddad said.
It is in the city's best interest, Mr. Haddad said, to find ways to contain energy costs, such as through alternative energy sources, including wind.
Depending on where the city stands in its discussions about municipal power, it's possible that the city would set up a booth during the business expo to let residents know what is being explored or considered, Mr. Haddad said.
About 3,000 people visited the business expo last year. There were 110 booths in 2005, and it's possible that there will be 120 booths this year, Ms. Nowak said.
During the expo, local supermarkets, coffee shops, and specialty food stores will offer fresh ideas for entertaining and for healthy meals as part of a Taste of Sylvania.
"This is a way to get out new products to the consumer," Ms. Nowak said, such as through samples that will be available during the event.
Other activities during the expo include a children's area sponsored by the YMCA/JCC. Local schools and music and dance academies will provide entertainment.
The expo will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 31. Expo booths are available for chamber members at a reduced rate of $155 until Jan. 15. After that the fee is $200.
Nonchamber members can obtain a booth for $250; of that amount, $50 is applied to a chamber membership.