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17th Annual Mississippi Business EXPO wraps up

Foot-sore but happy: Participants give EXPO high marks

The booths have been torn down. Business people are back at the office. But they are not idle as they go through thousands of leads and discuss follow-up strategies to contacts made during the 17th Annual Mississippi Business EXPO, held Jan. 12-13 at the Mississippi Trademart in Jackson.

Not only did more than 150 exhibitors see thousands of visitors, but the EXPO also offered several awards programs, an after-hours networking event, workshops and more.

“It was by far our biggest and best EXPO,” said Linda Jacobs, director of special events at the Mississippi Business Journal. “We got positive feedback from attendees and exhibitors, and we will look to build on this success for the EXPO in 2001.”

EXPO got underway with the first-annual Salute to Business and Industry Awards breakfast. The program honored six businesses of central Mississippi for not only their financial success, but also their commitment to their employees and local community.

The keynote speaker was Leland Speed, chairman of EastGroup and Parkway Properties in Jackson, who spoke to about 300 people on his personal observations on the changing business dynamics in central Mississippi and the rise of the “New South.”

The Salute to Business and Industry winners were:

• Commercial (Small) — TempStaff Inc. of Jackson

• Commercial (Medium) — Country Originals Inc. of Jackson

• Commercial (Large) — McAlister’s Corporation of Ridgeland

• Industrial (Small) — LAD Engineering Technologies of Jackson

• Industrial (Medium) — Double G Coating Company, L.P. of Jackson

• Industrial (Large) — Raytheon Aerospace Company of Madison

The breakfast was followed by the Top 40 Under 40 luncheon. Top 40 Under 40 honors 40 individuals under the age of 40 who have exhibited success in their chosen fields, as well as a commitment to community service. The winners spanned a wide gamut of careers — from presidents to educators to political consultants.

The keynote address was given by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

“I was elected lieutenant governor at the age of 39,” Musgrove said to approximately 400 people. “Yet, I wasn’t chosen to Top 40 Under 40. This is truly a great honor you have received.”

The second day’s festivities were highlighted by a luncheon honoring Mississippi’s Leading Businesswomen, and the naming of the Businesswoman of the Year. A musical and dramatic presentation was given by Tonea Stewart, star of the TV show “In the Heat of the Night” and the movie “A Time to Kill,” along with her sister, Beverly Branson, both of Jackson.

The program culminated in the presenting of the Businesswoman of the Year Award to Sister Dorthea Sondergroth of St. Dominic – Jackson Memorial Hospital.

During the two-day event, exhibitors met a steady stream of visitors. Exhibitors included everything from the ASA racing car team of Mike Miller to a full mock-up of a beauty salon by Colonial Enterprise of Jackson that had so many takers the exhibitors had to take names for rain checks.

With the show’s closing on Jan. 13, hundreds of exhausted exhibitors and sponsors left pleased with this year’s EXPO, and already thinking about next year.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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