Networking opportunities abound at the 2005 Mississippi Business & Technology Expo, where 4,000 people are expected to mingle at the state’s largest business-to-business networking event.
“Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a sole proprietor or CEO of a large corporation, this is one event you don’t want to miss,” said Robbie Bell, special projects director for the Mississippi Business Journal.
Presented by Road Runner Business Class as a special project of the Mississippi Business Journal, with the Mississippi Technology Alliance as a major sponsor, the 22nd-annual EXPO begins Wednesday, January 19, at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson with a kick-off breakfast saluting business and industry and ends Thursday, January 20, shortly after the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year of 2004 is named.
“We are so pleased that Road Runner and the Mississippi Technology Alliance have increased their participation in the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO, which has proven to be the biggest and best networking event in the state,” said MBJ publisher Joe Jones, who has been involved with the EXPO for the last nine years. “I’ve seen this grow from a little trade show into one of the most important events for business folks in the state. After 22 years, it’s better than ever. Every year, Robbie Bell adds something special to make the EXPO even more successful for all involved.”
Among this year’s new twists, the EXPO will feature Game Show Mania, a high-energy trivia game show hosted by Presto Partyz’ Preston Medlock. Several times a day from the main stage, Medlock will ask three pre-selected teams, with two or three contestants per team, a variety of general trivia questions. The winning team selects a representative to go into the money machine for a 20-second cash run.
“We tell the person they can grab the cash and put it anywhere they wish,” said Medlock. “This can become quite comical!”
Game Show Mania “is a very lively and innovative addition to EXPO, and we encourage attendees to take a shot at the game,” said Bell.
Hollywood Casino is a first-time sponsor for the Activity Aisle, featuring magician Robert Day, freelance caricature artist Ricky Noble, massage therapists and golf pro Bob Ford, owner of Brookwood Country Club and a nationally-recognized clinician, who will videotape individual golf swings and provide detailed evaluations at no charge.
“This is a terrific new feature that we hope will bring people to EXPO who might otherwise not come,” said Bell.
Also on the Activity Aisle, the University of Mississippi Medical Center will offer free blood pressure screenings.
This year, nine free seminars will be held in the BankPlus Tent, and seminar attendees will have the opportunity to win two roundtrip Southwest Airlines tickets to any destination in the continental U.S.
Talk radio station, SuperTalk MS FM 97.3 will broadcast live from the two-day event, and WLBT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, will also be on-site for event coverage.
Designated aisles represent technology, construction and tourism industries. The Mississippi Technology Alliance, Nissan, and Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada, PLLC, are sponsoring Technology Clusters. Associated Builders & Contractors is hosting the Construction Zone. Mississippi Development Authority’s Division of Tourism and Pearl River Resort are promoting the Meetings, Conventions and Tourism Mall.
“The Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau is a long-time EXPO participant — 10-plus years, and always has a booth at the event,” said Mara Hartmann, CVB manager of communications and public relations. “Not only does the EXPO give us a prime opportunity to educate participants about our role in economic development in the capital city, but it gives us a chance to tell them about all the exciting new things happening in Jackson, such as the opening of the Telecom Center slated for the end of this year and the progress of the Capital City Convention Center, which voters approved last November. Of course, equally important to us is the opportunity to network with the EXPO’s participants, particularly those meeting planners who may be interested in booking their meetings and conventions here.”
Other EXPO Extras: Road Runner Business Class’ Cyber Café, where attendees may retrieve e-mail, the Exhibitor Lounge, sponsored by Jackie’s International, Community Coffee and The Jackson Coca-Cola Bottling Company with registration by TempStaff.
Visitors to the Road Runner Cyber Café will also be invited to register for a free computer donated by Allen Chester, owner of Ridgeland Computer Repair. He will also provide the computers for the café.
“We will have enhanced security inside the EXPO and continued protection through the parking lot,” said Bell, who added that Pendleton Security would patrol the area for the second consecutive year and Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillan would add horse patrol for the event.
“Security is protocol for any large event at the Trade Mart,” said Robbie Pendleton, president of Pendleton Security in Jackson. “We’re providing peace of mind more than anything else. The EXPO is a very safe event.”
Approximately 92% of last year’s 200 exhibitors have returned for the 2005 EXPO to showcase their products and services to thousands of executives, managers and purchasing agents.
About 3,000 attendees are expected to attend four special EXPO events — Salute to Business & Industry Kick-off Breakfast, Top 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon, Business After Hours and Mississippi Business Woman of the Year Luncheon — that will focus on connecting the state’s best and brightest business minds.
“L-3 Vertex Aerospace participates in the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO because it is the premiere business-to-business expo event of the year,” said company spokesperson Chris Blount. “We have had a booth at the EXPO for at least seven consecutive years. Our participation, because we are a government contractor with no local customers, may seem surprising. Yet we are a part of this business community with nearly 500 employees and many local vendors and suppliers.
“The EXPO is a great way for our company to see what’s new, who’s who, who’s top under 40, as well as the latest in innovative products and services from outstanding area businesses. Additionally, we take advantage of the great mini-seminars on useful business topics offered at the EXPO. Lastly, we often make contacts with professionals inquiring about our company’s career opportunities. So we generally have one of our staffing people on hand for that contingency.
“The Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO is very well attended, and a big success each year due to the hard-working Mississippi Business Journal staff, who knock themselves out putting on a great show. It’s not to be missed.”
Admission to the 2005 Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO is $5 — or free with an EXPO ticket or a business card. Many program sponsors are distributing admission tickets to their clients. Tickets are also available at the MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce office, Mississippi Business Journal and AmSouth, BancorpSouth, BankPlus, Trustmark and Union Planters metro bank branches.
Event hours are 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 19, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 20. No one under 18 will be allowed entry; business identification is required. Strollers will not be allowed.
For additional ticket information, visit www.msbusiness.com and click on EXPO.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.