Event aims to draw attention to local businesses

     When Jack Ritoli showed up at Family Fun Day in Chino Hills on Saturday, he did more than just watch kids have their faces painted and vie for raffle prizes.
     He was networking.
     It’s been one year since Ritoli and his wife, Christine, created Inland Empire Network Partners, a Chino Hills-based business organization that’s added 16 members to its ranks.
     The public family event also doubled as a mini-business expo held at the Crossroads Entertainment Center strip mall located at Chino Avenue and the 71 Freeway. Money was raised for Max’s Lemonade Stand, a La Mirada-based breast cancer research organization.
     IENP meets at 7 a.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month at Que Pasa Cafe, which is also located in the Crossroads Entertainment Center. For info, call (909) 636-1905.
     “We share business ideas and we help each other out,” Ritoli said about IENP. “We’ve got people from Norco, Corona, Chino and Chino Hills. It’s everybody working together.”
     Ritoli said he and his wife started IENP because there was a need for an “informal” business networking group.
     “We come in there, share ideas, and we keep going from there,” he said. “Sometimes business owners just can’t be there. They’re too busy, and that’s okay. They can come whenever they want to.”
     The economy was in better shape when the business owners met for IENP’s first meeting last July.
     “Right now we’re going through a real rough time,” Ritoli said. “If we stick together, we get more ideas. The group really works together to help each other out. If we can do it as a group, it’s much more powerful.”
matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

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