Business View Magazine | Volume 8, Issue 6

127 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE VOLUME 8, ISSUE 6 BUY INDI ANA EXPO changing based on the French Lick Casino Resort and their protocols and the state changes with different CDC requirements, etc. So, as we are working through that, we are updating our plans to make sure that we host a safe and effective event.” The Buy Indiana Expo was initiated years ago by then-Bedford Chamber of Commerce CEO Adele Bowden-Purlee. It was started as an attempt to connect the businesses in the Bedford area community to the buying power of the naval base. “I think the first one they bussed people from the base over to the high school and basically had a whole tour session of ‘here’s what’s happening in the community,’” Sizemore says. “From there, it’s grown to have more of a state, and sometimes even a national, focus with the hopes of helping to grow and incentivize the military to utilize the region. They have requirements they have to hit – small business requirements, minority and women-run business requirements. So this is a mechanism that we can use to help the community and it also helps the base meet their requirements for purchasing.” As the event expanded, it grew to include the Linton-Stocton Chamber of Commerce and the Jasper Chamber of Commerce. The three chambers rotate as hosts of the yearly event and this year is Bedford’s turn. “It kind of spun out after we outgrew our communities,” says Sizemore. “We now co-host every three years and split the responsibilities. And now, because of the size of the event, it’s hosted in French Lick at the casino.” So far, the news that the event will be back for 2021 has been met with a good response from vendors. Sizemore acknowledges, “I know some of our vendors are ready to get back out – maybe they are vaccinated or maybe they’re just ready to have those social and in-person experiences. The Buy Indiana Expo is an event that’s predicated on relationship building and making those connections with the buyers, so this is not something you can effectively do via Zoom. They seem to be eager to jump on board and get their game out again.” The event is open to those who register in advance and typically includes around 200 vendors each year. Those exhibitors run the gamut from a wide parade of industries. “It’s completely across the board,” says Sizemore. “If you think of what a base purchases, they operate like a small city. They buy toilet paper, they purchase brooms, and they have people who mow the lawn. And so it ranges from necessary business-household items to very specific circuit boards and lasers. There are a few vendors who have a very niche product line and who are targeting a very specific segment of the base.” The majority of vendors are Indiana-based