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Business Fair

Coeur d'Alene — The Coeur d'Alene Area Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual After Hours Business Fair on Tuesday.

This year, 109 local businesses have signed up for the show. "We've done this for the past 13 years. The first year we had 62 businesses, and this year, at 109, that's all we can fit into the convention center," says Toni Sayler, programs manager with the Coeur d'Alene Chamber. "It's a big, fun social, and the public can visit for free. Last year, we had 1,000 people visiting."

Every imaginable business category will be represented, from builders to beauticians.

"I tell them they can do anything they want to, as long as they get along with the neighbor booth," says Sayler. Many businesses sponsor door prizes and other giveaways.

The fair is a great network opportunity for local businesses that may not always connect during their busy workweeks.

"The business people get to chat with people they haven't seen in a long time," says Sayler. "People do business here, too, but mostly businesses do it for the exposure, to show that they are part of the community and support what's going on around here."

The After Hours Business Fair is on Tuesday, Feb. 13, from 5-8 pm at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Convention Center. Call: (208) 664-3194.

Free healthcare

SPOKANE — For the 100,000 people without health insurance living in Eastern Washington, any news of possibly obtaining free healthcare is good news.

The Health Improvement Partnership (HIP) is one of 14 sites nationwide to receive a $700,000 grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The money will go toward helping HIP's Inland Northwest in Charge initiative.

"The goal is to expand health care access," says Deanna Davis, special projects coordinator for HIP. The Charge initiative seeks to develop new insurance programs for the uninsured who don't qualify for state-sponsored programs, improve access to pharmaceuticals, provide care for chronic health conditions and discover new ways to improve the healthcare system.

"The short-term goal is to get people into the resources they're already eligible for," says Davis. "Thousands of people are eligible and don't know it." Out of the 100,000 uninsured people in the region, it's estimated that about 36,000 are eligible for partial or total assistance in paying for healthcare. Directing people to those programs frees up grant money for those who really have no other alternatives.

"The Inland Northwest has partnerships that aren't seen anywhere else," says Davis, adding that is why the grant was awarded to HIP. Providers are working together to find better ways to help the uninsured in the Charge initiative, which includes healthcare providers, hospitals, HMOs and insurance companies.

HIP continues to set high local and statewide goals that require the combined effort of everyone involved. "We're working on a state policy initiative," says Davis of the next item on their agenda.

Call Health For All at (866) 444-3066 to see what type of free or low-cost health insurance you may qualify for.

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