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Lemon pound cakes, cupcakes and crafty candles made to look like bowls of breakfast cereal were some of the big sellers at a Saturday, Feb. 26, business expo at SouthPark Mall in Moline. Those items, and many more, were featured during the seventh annual Black Business Expo and Health Fair. The event, presented by the QC Empowerment Network, brought together about 60 vendors from numerous business sectors and the health field. “This will give them some business exposure,” said Tracy Singleton, CEO of the QC Empowerment Network. “This gives them the chance to network with others; find out what workers do; find out what doesn’t work.” Ms. Singleton added that she was happy with the turnout at the Saturday expo. Hundreds of people looked over numerous items including food, jewelry and hair care products during the opening hour of the event that featured Black-owned businesses. Several of the vendors said they were also happy with the turnout. Some added that they believe many people showed up for the event because they are tired of being stuck in their homes during this latest phase of the pandemic. Many people want to get out and start shopping again. “People started coming here early” even before the 1 p.m. official start of the expo, said Octavia Klouvi, who was selling cupcakes at her Cake Street Bakery table. “They like the cupcakes and I’m almost sold out of them.” A few tables away, workers at Gina Gee’s bakery table said the lemon pound cakes were big sellers with the crowd. And not far from the pound cakes, Mechelle Williams looked over one of her best-sellers on the day – a unique candle made to look like a bowl of cereal. That candle, and many others, were for sale at MJ’s Creative Candles table. “I love coming to these expos. It does give me a chance to network with the other people,” said Ms. Williams. Ms. Singleton said MJ’s Creative Candles is an example of the “passion economy” businesses represented at the expo. That is, ventures started by people who took a passionate activity, such as a hobby, and turned it into a potential money-making business. Many of those businesses started during the pandemic when many people were stuck in their homes, perhaps bored, sometimes tired of family members, and were looking for something creative to do, she added. In fact, Ms. Singleton said, about 90% of the businesses at the expo were “pop-up” businesses born of the passion economy that do not have the traditional storefront operations. “We're here because we want them to do some good business and introduce them to the community,” she added.