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Best bet: bring dancing shoes, business cards for productive, fun Wednesday

Overflow crowds expected at EXPO special events

More music, less talk. That’s the plan for the 2005 Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO’s special events.

“People have indicated they like the entertainment, so instead of having keynote speakers, we’ll have sponsors making a few comments at each event,” said Robbie Bell, special projects director for the Mississippi Business Journal. “I think they’ll be real pleased with the mix.”

Rubbing elbows with Who’s Who

Raphael Semmes’ Metro Jazz Krewe will kick off the fifth annual Salute To Business & Industry Awards Kickoff Breakfast with foot-stomping Dixieland jazz tunes. About 400 people are expected to attend the EXPO’s inaugural special event, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 19. The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), Mississippi Technology Alliance (MTA), Trustmark and SuperTalk MS, are event sponsors.

This prestigious statewide recognition program showcases good corporate citizenship exemplified by Mississippi-based companies, which are judged by an independent panel of business experts on their contributions to the region through community involvement, workforce development policies and leadership.

After an invocation by Dr. Dolphus Weary and welcoming comments from MBJ publisher Joe Jones, MDA deputy director for community assistance Bill Crawford, former director of The Montgomery Institute, will give brief remarks on the impact of corporate participation in local communities.

Finalists will be announced in the awards categories that include commercial, industrial, health, retail, food and lodging and non-profit divisions. Other featured divisions, categorized by the number of employees, include Most Promising Emerging Companies, established five years or less, and the Innovation Awards.

A new awards category will be featured this year: Who’s Who in Mississippi Business. This competition recognizes outstanding achievements by corporate executives in the following roles: CEO, CFO, CIO, Marketing/Ad Directors and HR Directors.

Last year’s winners include Associated Builders and Contractors’ Mississippi chapter, Beau Rivage, CameraWatch, FNC Inc., Harbor House, Health Management Associates, Hollywood Casino Tunica, Lift Inc., Millsaps Buie House, Pioneer Aerospace, Seeman Composites, Stuart C. Irby Co. and Triton Systems.

After the awards ceremony, the Krewe will transform into a New Orleans Second Line parade group, marching through the room and leading breakfast attendees to the exhibit hall for the EXPO ribbon cutting at 9:15 a.m.

Tickets to the Salute to Business & Industry Kick-Off Breakfast are $32 each.

Honoring Mississippi’s emerging leaders

More than 500 young business and community leaders and their families are expected to attend the 12th annual Top 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon, beginning at noon Wednesday, January 19, and sponsored by Adams and Reese, LLP, and BancorpSouth.

After an invocation by Stan Buckley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Top 40 alum and MDA deputy director Gray Swoope will offer a few gems of advice to the class of 2005, “Top 40 And Then Some,” and Eyevox Film and Video Productions will provide the video of this year’s winners. The Raphael Semmes Group will accompany pianist/vocalist Joanne Parks.

“It was a great honor to be recognized in 1999 as one of Mississippi’s Top 40 Under 40 business leaders,” said Swoope. “I have great respect and admiration for young leaders from around the state getting involved in their communities. A key ingredient to economic development success is the continued unselfish involvement of community and business leaders. Their determination to get involved and make a difference often separates the economically vibrant communities from the less prosperous.”

Tickets to the Top 40 Under 40 luncheon are $45 each.

Electric dancing shoes and business cards

More than 20 area restaurants will showcase their signature dishes at the EXPO’s Business After Hours (BAH), sponsored by AmSouth Bank, MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce and WLBT. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 19.

“The EXPO Business After Hours has been a very popular and much anticipated event for a number of years, but in the last three years it has grown significantly,” said Bell. “Last year was a record-breaker with 1,500 to 1,800 people in attendance. Each year, area restaurants and caterers set up on the red-carpeted, 40-foot wide center Activity Aisle with their tastiest food samplings for the BAH attendees. They go all out to decorate their tables and offer creative presentations.”

An outside panel of judges selects the restaurant with the best visual impression, and awards the winner with two roundtrip Southwest Airlines tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. Second prize is a weekend at the Pearl River Resort.

“These two companies are on-going sponsors for events produced by the Mississippi Business Journal, and they make it possible for us to offer these very nice awards for work well done by the restaurants,” said Bell. “Last year’s first place winner of the airline tickets was Mildred’s VIP Caterers, and second place went to Pretty Presentation Caterers.”

Henry Rhodes & the Mo’ Money Band will rouse the crowd (party goers can count on doing the Electric Slide), while Presto Partyz’ Preston Medlock, host of Game Show Mania, will send winners into a money machine for a 20-second cash run during band breaks.

“We look forward to Business After Hours more than any other event,” said Tony Sims, Mississippi spokesperson for AmSouth. “It’s a great opportunity for people to continue their ‘meeting, greeting and networking’ in a more relaxed setting, complete with great food and live entertainment.”

Exhibitors remain in their booths during most of the party, which ends this year at 7:30 p.m.

“Attendees are encouraged to come earlier in the afternoon to transact business and then get ready to enjoy the party at 5 p.m.,” said Bell. “The Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors, sponsors of the Construction Aisle, will host their monthly membership meeting on their aisle at the beginning of the After Hours party and then they will all blend in with other attendees to enjoy the food, music and cash bars.”

Admission to Business After Hours is free, with an EXPO ticket.

A Magnolia State power lunch

A sell-out crowd of 500 is expected to attend the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year Luncheon, sponsored by BellSouth, Holman Automotive, Mississippi Economic Council, St. Dominic Hospital and Union Planters Bank. The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, January 20.

Sister Mary Dorothea Sondgeroth, CEO of St. Dominic Hospital and Mississippi’s first Business Woman of the Year in 2000, will give the invocation, followed by brief remarks by Larry Holder, managing partner of Holman Automotive, about his admiration for women’s achievements. Jackie Pearson Bankston, an Ole Miss grad who has traveled the world making music, will entertain the crowd.

“I am very excited to be playing this year at the women’s luncheon,” said Bankston. “Some people don’t look at a musician and think they are in business, but I am a Mississippi businesswoman. I just don’t have to wear a suit!”

The Top 12 Business Women, selected from the class of Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women of 2004, will be unveiled at the luncheon in video by Eyevox, culminating in the announcement of the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year. Other former winners include GodwinGroup advertising executive Robin Tannehill of Oxford, artist Gail Pittman, CEO of Ridgeland-based Gail Pittman Inc., Frances Lucas, president of Millsaps College in Jackson, and Quality Health Services CEO Eleanor Rogers.

“The awards program is a wonderful complement to what we women are doing,” said Jeanie Malouf, broker/owner of Jeanie Malouf Real Estate in Brandon, who was named a Top 12 Business Woman in 2002. “This group includes anyone who’s made a significant contribution to the business industry, either through sheer tenacity or an academic background. If you saw the résumés and the caliber of people participating in these programs, it’s absolutely overwhelming. Having been in the group, it has helped me on an individual basis to establish even more credibility in the marketplace, as any designation would. Unless you’re in sales with a large entity, you usually don’t have that recognition. An atta-girl on any level is a shot in the arm to continue on.”

Beverly Smallwood, Ph.D., seminar presenter at the program’s special conference last August and owner of Making Workplaces Magnetic in Hattiesburg, said it was a joy to work with such an outstanding group of businesswomen.

“In my seminar, they shared wise and powerful insights from their business and personal experiences,” she said. “And, they demonstrated the ability to laugh and have fun. I was there to teach, but I learned from them!”

Tickets for the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year Luncheon are $40 each.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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