If it’s January, it’s EXPO time at the Mississippi Trade Mart. The state’s largest business-to-business networking event celebrates its 25th anniversary January 16 and 17. This year marks the fourth year Comcast Business Class is the title sponsor of this special event of the Mississippi Business Journal.
“Our system has been a part of the show for years as a vendor, and for the past several years as the title sponsor,” said Ronnie Colvin, vice president/general manager for Comcast in Jackson and Southern Mississippi. “The show has grown tremendously, and the 25-year anniversary speaks to the success of the show. The business community looks forward to it every year.”
MBJ advertising director Kathy Arich promises a festive atmosphere with lots of black and silver 25th anniversary symbols. The grand door prize is a cruise for two from McGehee Cruise & Vacation Inc.
“Over the course of more than two decades, the Mississippi Business Journal has worked diligently to grow the number of exhibitors, attendees and offerings at the show,” she said. “We are going to provide a number of firsts at this year’s event, and we are really excited about the 2008 edition of EXPO.”
EXPO begins at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and moves forward to the 5 p.m. Business After Hours networking party with local restaurants serving their most popular dishes, live music and a cash bar. On Thursday EXPO runs from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Other special events include the Best Places to Work Breakfast, Top 40 Under 40 Luncheon and Business Woman of the Year Luncheon. The EXPO will feature nearly 200 exhibits and is expected to attract thousands of attendees. There will also be free seminars presented by Hinds Community College’s Eagle Ridge Conference Center and informative demonstrations by golf experts, artisans and massage therapists.
The 2008 EXPO is dedicated to the late Ron Jones, publications director/general manager of the Mississippi Business Journal. The Alabama native joined the MBJ in 1993 and oversaw subscription development and distribution before being promoted to general manager. In March 2007, he was named publications director after an acquisition by Dolan Media Company. Jones handled a wide range of projects during his time with the MBJ, and he played a critical role in building the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO into the state’s largest business-to-business tradeshow. He died in late December after a brief but courageous battle against cancer.
Colvin said Comcast sees EXPO as an excellent opportunity to reach the business community and build upon business and commercial account relationships.
“Since we can now offer businesses video, Internet options including dedicated access and fiber and telephone, it is important for us to showcase those products and reinforce that we are a leader in the telecommunications arena,” he said.
Comcast also sponsors the Cyber Café where EXPO attendees have access to Internet services, and has employees providing information at the company’s booth.
The biggest Comcast milestone in 2007 was completing all of the transitions from the prior ownership. “We changed billing systems, transferred our customers to the Comcast Internet and phone networks, increased our Internet speed, introduced phone service in the Rankin County area and made many improvements in our technical backbone, such as stand-by power and battery backup for our telephone service,” he said.
This year, Comcast will build on the foundation of changes made in 2007 and continue to offer customers greater value and variety, Colvin said. “But, there are some exciting changes on our radar screen,” he said. “Comcast just introduced telephone for commercial accounts at the very end of 2007, so we can now offer our triple play bundles to our commercial customers.”
The company, founded in 1963 in Tupelo, now offers Comcast Business Class Internet with Microsoft Communication Services, something no one else can provide, Colvin added. “We also expect to offer more high-definition channels and to expand and enhance our ON DEMAND services in 2008,” he said.
Colvin points out that Comcast has a legacy of giving back to the community, and feels they have enhanced that involvement through their commitment to the areas they serve. Comcast Cares Day is one of the largest commitments to those communities.
“Each year, Comcast designates a day for employees nationally to assist non-profits with needs they may have, from painting or landscaping to pretty much anything the local system and organization agree needs to be done,” he said. “The date is the first Saturday in May, and we look forward to it. Comcast also strongly supports education through our Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program, the United Way and many community organizations.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.