The aim of the 11th-annual Gulf Coast Business and Industry Expo is to “bring business buyers and sellers together under one roof so that they can see what’s new and available, basically in the way of technology features,” said James Watts, president of Jackson-based MarketSouth Productions, which is producing this year’s expo in cooperation with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and the Harrison County Development Commission.
More than 100 companies will be doing just that this year when the Expo gets underway March 28-29, 2000. Exhibitors range from technology and utilities to mom-and-pop service companies to three different divisions of NASA and the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.
“There will be lots of advertising-related products, printing, the Isle of Capri, Redd Pest Control, two different yacht services: Yellowbird Catamaran and also Starship Cruise Lines. The hospitality industry is certainly represented,” Watts said.
The Mississippi Coast Convention Center is the location once again for this expo, where people mill around, peering at displays and sizing up the giveaways at each exhibition booth. Exhibitors put their best foot forward, seeking to educate other businesses about the existence or scope of their business, or to showcase new products and services.
Some of the exhibitors are expo veterans, like Mississippi Power.
“Mississippi Power has been an exhibitor for 11 years. They have four exhibit spaces, and they’ll have two state-of-the-art electric vehicles in the show that will be available to the public in the very near future,” Watts said.
And although there is undoubtedly some subtle personnel recruiting at each expo, this year there will also be some overt recruiting taking place, Watts said.
“For instance, Howard Computers of Laurel is going into a project with Jones Junior College’s workforce development program, as well as the University of Southern Mississippi’s engineering technology program, to offer specialized training for Gulf Coast industries,” he said.
This is a crucial part to the expo that many people don’t see.
“What we try to do is get the human resources people, as well as the purchasing people, from the Gulf Coast’s larger industrial companies to attend the show who may not be represented as exhibitors, but certainly are very important in terms of trying to do business with the different exhibiting companies.”
Thousands of people are expected to take advantage of the networking opportunities and view the showcased goods and services at this year’s expo.
Watts called the expected crowd “the professional general public: managers, owners, board members and purchasing officials.”
In addition to business owners, this year expo organizers hope to have some special guests: members of out-of-town chambers of commerce.
“We’ve never before sent invitations to Chamber of Commerce members in Mobile, New Orleans, and Slidell. We did that this year,” Watts said. “I was really surprised that New Orleans’ chamber is slightly larger than the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. New Orleans is 2,900, Mobile is 2,700, Mississippi Gulf Coast is 2,600, Slidell is about 1,200.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Kim M. Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or (601) 364-1018.