BUSINESSMEN and women from across the region will be gathering later this month in one of the biggest networking events Swindon has ever seen.

The Thames Valley Expo will see hundreds of businesses gather in one place and yesterday saw a lunch event to give them tips on how best to promote themselves.

Among the local firms present were Excalibur, Swindon 105.5 and Swindon Town Football Club.

“This event is all about increasing the local economy,” said Alec Jones-Hall, one of the organisers.

“We previously ran a successful event in Windsor and more than 550 local businesses came.

“It gives the opportunity to chat to other local business people for contracts or even investment.

“In Windsor, there was one business which was struggling to get enough money to run their stand but they ended up leaving with a £20,000 contract.

“We often hear about a firm which may be using a lawyer or a printer far away when there is in fact a good alternative on there doorstep.

“This expo will help solve those problems and build a business network throughout Swindon.”

More than 400 businesses have already signed up to be a part of the Thames Valley Expo and, with a fortnight still to go, it is expected this will increase in time for the event.

Yesterday’s event offered tips on how to run the perfect stall on the day in order to get the message across.

Alec is keen to stress that the day will not just be for businesses and the general public is invited.

He said: “Anyone who is looking to start up a business or even just has an interest in business is welcome to come along.

“Lots of people have been in the position where they are looking for advice or information and the expo will be the perfect place for them to start.

“It won’t just be a day away from the office.

“It will be a day in which businesses can gain a lot from.”

Mark Isaacs, the Swindon Town stadium manager, said the club will be attending to help raise the profile of the services on offer.

He said: “In the modern-day environment we cannot just be in operation for match days.

“Most people will be aware of the facilities we have on offer during matchdays so we need to make them aware of what is available the rest of the time.”

The Thames Valley Expo will take place on November 21 at the Steam Museum. It will run from 9am until 4pm and anyone is free to attend.