If anyone doubts that there’s a wide range of businesses in Hernando County covering just about every industry, then the 2023 Hometown Hernando Business Expo showed a different picture. Not only were there a variety of businesses represented at the Nov. 4 event sponsored by the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce but there were also representatives from non-profits and government agencies there to inform the public about their services. The event would not have been possible without the cooperation of the sponsors, the vendors and Crosspoint Church, the venue. This is the second year that the Chamber has held its business expo at this location and there was ample space both indoors and outside to accommodate the crowd.
The following businesses participated as sponsors:
Presenting Sponsor – Massage Envy;
Gold Sponsor – The Hogan Law Firm;
Silver Sponsors – Accent Insurance Group; Citarella Termite and Pest Management; Glen Lakes Rental Homes; Protech Roofing Services, LLC; Suncoast Credit Union; Fyzical Therapy & Balance Center; and veriMED Health Group Brooksville.
Bronze Sponsors: 4 Corners Pharmacy; Comfort Control Specialist Air Conditioning & Heating; Holmes Drafting Services, LLC; Polaris; The Residence at Timber Pines; UPS; Cutlip Financial (CFI) ; Elizabeth A. Narverud – Vote Beth Campaign; and Florida Hills Memorial Gardens & Turner Funeral Homes
Florida Senior Living Specialists was one of the businesses at the expo. Beckie Halaska, a Senior Living Advisor, explained that her role is to help Seniors who are in transition from independent living to other options. This might be assisted living, memory care, in-home care or a number of other arrangements. Ms. Halaska works with the clients to see what their financial and physical needs are and what benefits they have, such as veteran’s benefits. She is paid by the communities in which she places the clients, not by the clients themselves.
“I set up the tours of the facilities and we go on the tours together. I help in the decision-making process and see what’s the best fit for my client by asking the right questions to help them make the right decision. It takes a lot of the stress off the clients and their relatives,” Ms. Halaska remarked.
Several representatives from ATA Career Education were there to explain their programs. ATA offers a wide variety of courses, such as dental assisting, practical nursing, and medical coding. Some are in-person, some are online and others are a combination. Their programs are seventeen months and the students attend year-round. They offer day and night classes. ATA generally has a lower student/teacher ratio than in the state institutions, and, like other universities and colleges, they offer financial aid.
Kiana Williams, a student in the medical assistant program who’ll graduate in January, remarked, “I like it here because you get a more personal connection with the teachers and the other students.”
Shelby Wagoner, an adjunct instructor for medical assisting, graduated from ATA seven years ago with an Associate’s degree and is now working on her Bachelor’s degree.
“We can be more hands-on, both in class and then in an externship at the end of the program. Students practice all the procedures on each other and then have practical experience in a doctor’s office,” Ms. Wagoner stated.
Perhaps one of the more unusual businesses at the expo was Birdie Bay Golf Mobile Golf Simulator. Caleb Marion started the business just two months ago after seeing a similar business in California. His goal is to have two other locations within a year run by other people. The purpose is to help golfers improve their game or just to provide a controlled environment if someone wants to play a game with their friends.
His business is located inside of a large trailer that he pulls behind his truck. Caleb can go to a customer’s home with his mobile simulator or to a corporate venue. Up to four people can be in the trailer at a time, taking turns with their shots. The cost for individuals is $60 per hour, which can be split up among the players. For corporate events, he usually charges $100 per hour, which includes prizes that he gives out.
In addition to the golf clubs and balls, his equipment includes monitoring software loaded into a laptop computer to analyze the shots and a laser projector.
Paul Kirkham, CEO of Brooksville Youth Academy, was there to explain its program. The Youth Academy is under the umbrella of Youth Opportunity and offers a psychiatric treatment program for boys between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. Although some of the boys come here from in-state, 85 percent come from other states, such as Texas, Montana, and Vermont.
The boys suffer from such disorders as severe depression. Some are on the autism spectrum or have ADHD and many just haven’t succeeded in other educational settings. The typical term is nine to twelve months. The clients take all their classes here, have individual and group therapy, sports, and field trips.
Each boy has a treatment team made up of teachers, counselors, caregivers and case managers that work with him. They meet once a month. If the child completes his treatment plan and meets his goals, he can be released.
Drew Hackworth was another business owner who was at the expo. He started his business, Polaris, in 2013. He helps small to medium businesses utilize and set up their technology and secure their business computers and networks. Hackworth explains IT as a “passion” − something every entrepreneur needs to have in order to be successful.
“My goal is continued growth in Hernando County and continuing to contribute and be part of the Hernando County community,” Hackworth remarked.
Ashley Hofecker, CEO of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, stated, “Attendees liked the variety of vendor booths and appreciated the indoor component of the event. They also enjoyed the interactivity of booths, such as the one offered by Massage Envy Spring Hill – Brooksville, the event’s presenting sponsor, with chair massages.”
“Vendors were very pleased with the flow of the event and the traffic to their booths, with some vendors mentioning over seventy leads,” she added.
With the growth that Hernando County is experiencing, both in population and in the number of new businesses coming to the area, next year’s Business Expo should be larger and even more diverse.