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Expo has come a long way

In the early 1980s, a group of organizers put on a trade show at the Mississippi Trademart that, by their own account, was not a stellar success. It was a new concept for the Jackson area — a large event tailored exclusively for business-to-business networking — and only a fraction of the sprawling exhibition floor of the Trademart was utilized.

However, organizers saw potential in the event, and the show not only survived, but also grew. After the Mississippi Business Journal purchased the show in the 1990s, awards programs and a business after hours event were added.

Today, the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO is Mississippi’s largest business-to-business event.

“That the EXPO has become a state tradition is obvious,” said MBJ publisher and editor Ed Darling. “And it’s a great way to start the new year. We think this year’s event will be the best ever and we look forward to seeing old friends, building fresh partnerships and sharing new ideas, products and technology.”

EXPO, which will again have Comcast Business Class as its title sponsor, will be held Jan.14-15, at the Mississippi Trademart. More than just exhibitor booths, this year’s events will include multiple awards programs, seminars, business after hours, door prizes, live entertainment and more.

This year’s EXPO will begin Jan. 14 at 7:30 a.m. with the Best Places to Work Kick-off Breakfast. Sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority, the recognition program honors those businesses that offer outstanding work environments for their employees. What makes this honor especially rewarding is that the recipients are selected on the strength of anonymous responses from their workers.

Immediately following the breakfast, the exhibition floor will open at 9:30 a.m. offering hundreds of booths.

At noon, the Top 40 Under 40 Luncheon will be held. Presented by BancorpSouth, the recognition program honors those Mississippians who have already not just proven themselves to be business leaders, but also movers and shakers in their communities.

During both days of EXPO, personnel from Mississippi State University and Hinds Community College’s Eagle Conference Center will offer free seminars to attendees.

In addition, EXPO will offer: Technology Clusters (sponsored by BMS Technology Alliance, SafetyNets and Mississippi Technology Alliance); Cyber Café (hosted by Comcast Business Class); Construction Aisle (sponsored by Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors); Activity Aisle (sponsored by The Alluvian Spa); Meetings & Conventions Aisle (sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority); Exhibitor Lounge – (sponsored by HMA); EXPO Staffing (from TempStaff and the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership); and live remote TV and radio broadcasts (by SuperTalk Mississippi and WLBT-TV).

The show floor will close Jan. 14 at 3 p.m., but will reopen at 5 p.m. for the Business After Hours event. The invitation-only networking program will offer live music, food from the area’s finest restaurants, a cash bar and more. The event’s sponsors are BCI, Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, WLBT-TV and SuperTalk Mississippi, with Howard Ballou serving as MC.

The tradeshow floor will open Jan. 15 at 10 a.m., and will close at 3 p.m.

At 11:30 a.m., EXPO’s final awards program, the Business Woman of the Year Luncheon, will be held. A unique offering, the Business Woman of the Year is chosen from the 2008 class of 50 Leading Business Women. This year’s sponsors are the Mississippi Economic Council and St. Dominic Health Services.

(Other new EXPO sponsors include BankPlus and Magna Bene Catering, which is also offering food and drink in the Exhibitor Lounge.)

Arich said, “EXPO takes a team effort, and would, quite simply, be impossible to put on each year without a host of great sponsors, partners and vendors. The quality of the show reflects the caliber of those who step up each year and help the MBJ put on a great event.”

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

About Wally Northway

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