McALLEN — Exhibitors from across the region handed out pamphlets and business cards to anyone who walked by their booths Thursday in the large exhibit hall at the convention center.

The 19th annual McAllen Business Expo, put on by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, brought retail, medical, service and marketing professionals together from all over the area. About 150 exhibitors sprawled across the open hall as an estimated 3,000 attendees mingled throughout.

McAllen Chamber President Steve Ahlenius started this event with the hope of connecting businesses with potential opportunities. As the event has grown, Ahlenius hopes to eventually gather over 200 exhibitors.

“We’ve come a long way,” Ahlenius said. “But we want to keep growing.”

Exhibitors at Thursday’s event featured those from the retail world, such as the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets; the medical field, such as Advanced Dentistry; retail, such as Latina Hope; produce, such as San Antonio Wholesale Produce market; education, such as multiple University of Texas Rio Grande Valley booths; telecommunications companies, financial groups and many others.

A keynote speaker, Jan Hargrave, spoke for two hours in the early afternoon about her profession of reading body language. Local attorneys, business owners, university workers and many more were on hand for Hargrave’s talk.

“Isn’t this cool?” Ahlenius said. “Having someone like her at an event like this — pretty neat.”