The local community can learn Wednesday, Feb. 2, if there will be a shadow over business this year, during Gahanna's 14th annual Groundhog Day economic forecast breakfast.

The local community can learn Wednesday, Feb. 2, if there will be a shadow over business this year, during Gahanna's 14th annual Groundhog Day economic forecast breakfast.

The free event will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at Creekside Conference and Event Center, 700 Creekside Plaza.

Leah Evans, Gahanna economic development manager, said the breakfast celebrates Gahanna's business community and provides an opportunity for networking with Gahanna businesses and elected officials.

"Anyone interested in doing business is welcome to attend," Evans said. "It's our time to shine and celebrate our business community."

The Groundhog Day special event was first held at one of AEP's newly constructed buildings in Gahanna with approximately 80 to 90 attending, Evans said.

This year the city is expecting more than 300 people. Those attending should register by sending their name, business name, phone number and email address to groundhog@gahanna.gov.

The keynote speaker, sponsored by Heartland Bank, will be Andrew B. Busch, global currency and public policy strategist for BMO Capital Markets' Investment Banking Division in Chicago.

Busch consults with the staffs from the U.S. Treasury, Congress, and the White House on economic and financial market issues. He also appears on CNBC's The Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo and on CNBC's the Kudlow Report.

"Groundhog Day supports the department's mission to attract, retain, and foster business in the Gahanna community through engagement in a networking and educational event," Evans said. "Annually, this event provides valuable economic forecast information to Gahanna businesses for decision making and strategic planning and provides an opportunity for Gahanna business owners to interact with each other and community leaders."

Additionally, the city presents Excellence in Development Awards to the previous year's exceptional projects and public/private partnerships that have invested in the community and provided value-added benefits for the residents and businesses of Gahanna.

Past award winners have included the development of a new model neighborhood clinic, a new mixed-use retail, office, and residential project, and a project using green building principles.

Through surveys and correspondence, Evans said the information has assisted existing Gahanna business in planning for positive and negative trends in the economy.

"The event is an innovative approach to relationship building and business engagement," Evans said. " This event has grown beyond the Gahanna business community and has become a 'must attend' event in the central Ohio region for businesses and economic development professionals and civic leaders from other communities."

Gahanna's annual Groundhog Day Economic Forecast Breakfast won a Mid-America Economic Development Council 2010 Annual Economic Development Award for Special Event.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com