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story.lead_photo.caption Texarkana, Texas, Patrol Officer Jerrika Weaver plays in the afternoon heat in friendly competition with fellow officers and firefighters Thursday at the downtown Small Business Expo. Photo by Junius Stone / Texarkana Gazette.

Employees from more than two dozen businesses gathered downtown on Thursday to meet the public and explain what they offer.

Restaurants, nutrition experts, utilities, cable  and Internet providers, media, insurance agents  and more were represented. This event was assembled by the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce and held on a hot, late August afternoon.

"It's all about meeting the community," said Kelsey Craig, director of human resources and marketing for Reliance Mechanical-Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. "When you are in my business, the folks are especially interested in the air-conditioning side. It makes for a natural ice breaker, if you will."

As they talked with passers-by, the heat clung to the gathered crowd like a thick, woolen blanket that no one could remove. So everyone had their own mechanism for coping.

"We drink lots of water, have an ice chest full of Popsicles and just make the best of it," Craig said. "We are just here to meet the community and support the Chamber."

The ladies of Texarkana Nutrition were uniquely equipped to withstand the conditions.

Among their offerings were cold nutritious drinks of various kinds. As she mixed a watermelon flavor concoction, Tonja Hotte talked about her business.

"We call ourselves fast food for smart people," she said. "We have drinks, ready-made meals, Herbal-Life nutrition. We teach people protein, metabolism enhancement and general health interest," she said as she handed out the cold drinks.

"I love networking; I love people. I have a passion for helping Texarkana get healthy," she said.

This is Texarkana Nutrition's first business expo. They have three outlets in Texarkana and are opening a fourth, Nutrition Pros on Summerhill, in a few months.

These businesses and more continued to meet and greet the public from both sides of the state line as the expo continued on into the evening, well past 6:30 p.m., getting the message out about the wide variety of small businesses in the local community.

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