The Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce will celebrate local innovative efforts in business at its annual meeting March 4.

The Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce will celebrate local innovative efforts in business at its annual meeting March 4.

"The trajectory of business has changed forever," said Becky Hajost, chamber president.

In response to the current economic reality, the chamber ó along with the city and the Community Improvement Corporation ó has joined the central Ohio regional business retention task force.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded regional grants to create a business crisis early-warning network. According to the ODOD website, the network will identify businesses that are at risk for layoffs and closures. Task force members respond by providing assistance to the business for accessing resources focused on job retention.

At this year's third annual Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce business expo and awards ceremony, slated for March 4, the focus of the keynote will be innovative efforts, such as the early warning network and Columbus 2020!, as ways to maintain and build economic growth in central Ohio.

Keynote speaker Kenny McDonald, Columbus Partnership chief economic officer, is leading Columbus 2020!, a public-private partnership that, according to the chamber, "will leverage central Ohioęs research and academic institutions and diverse industries to position Columbus to become the fastest growing economy in the country and one of the nation's leaders in economic development."

The Columbus Partnership's website states that McDonald joined the organization after serving seven years as the executive vice president of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, a public-private economic development organization in the Carolinas. In that role, he led a nationally recognized economic development program that successfully attracted many domestic and international companies to locate in the Charlotte region, while also fostering high value job creation through their existing industry support programs.

"We are excited to hear what Kenny has to say about how UA fits into Columbus2020!," Hajost said. The chamber's board chairs also will provide a year-in-review report in a unique "inside the chamber studio" format.

This year the event moves to the University Plaza Hotel on Olentangy River Road, after having outgrown the space at Hastings Middle School, where the event was hosted in previous years.

More than 20 Upper Arlington businesses will have booths at the expo in the University Plaza Hotel atrium. The expo is open to the public. Those attending will have the opportunity to get to know their local businesses while enjoying cocktails and snacks.

Businesses can reserve a spot in the expo by contacting the chamber at 614-481-5720. The business expo will begin at 4 p.m., and the awards ceremony and speaker will follow at 6:30 p.m.

The expo and awards ceremony are free and open to the public. For individuals interested in the formal dinner, the year-in-review presentation and the keynote address, tickets are available through the chamber for $50 a seat.

"I'm so pleased that this event continues to be a great opportunity to recognize businesses in the city and the great work they do," said Joe Valentino, assistant city manager. "Anytime we can lift up our local businesses it is a good thing."