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Between the aisles

Opportunities, networking abound at 28th MBJ Expo

Dan Modisett, general manager for WLBT TV-3 in Jackson, calls the 28th-annual Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO, a “great opportunity” for businesses to build relationships and reach out and touch potential advertisers.

“It’s one of the better networking opportunities we have during the course of the year,” he said. “You do a lot of networking in a short period of time. It’s one of the really premier business events of the year.”

As the one-day event returns the Mississippi Trade Mart, hundreds of Mississippi companies, schools, and organizations from Tupelo to Hattiesburg will take advantage of the bustling marketplace atmosphere to exhibit their products and services.

Comcast, one of EXPO’s title sponsors, will be returning to the Cyber Café where spokeswoman Francis Smith said both the telecom company’s personnel and products have been a successful part of the Cafe for more than a decade. “It’s a tremendous show and we encourage people to come out,” she said. “I can remember in the early days saying I don’t have time to go down there but I learn something every time.”

Smith said the Cyber Café is ground zero for Comcast sales representatives as they make personal connections with current and potential customers. “Comcast has a really great Internet product and a lot of businesses don’t realize we offer telephone service to small businesses,” she said. As the Internet continues to grow faster each day, Comcast has increased the speed for its online offerings. The Comcast Triple Play (video, Internet, voice) plan that Comcast residential customers have is also offered to commercial businesses.

Dozens of booths with attractive signage, visual demonstrations and friendly vendors will provide aisle after aisle of educational opportunities for visitors. Seminars addressing everything from social media to Internet security also give EXPO’ers a chance to circle up, exchange ideas and sync up their companies with emerging trends and issues.

Ridgeland’s Cellular South, the nation’s largest private cellular provider is also a title sponsor of EXPO including the highly anticipated Top 40 Under 40 Luncheon, an event honoring the next generation of Mississippi’s successful business community.

“We get to strengthen relationships with them — with folks who are in a position to be future leaders.” Cellular South spokesman Dave Miller said. Cellular South has participated in EXPO for a number of years and Miller said that being a sponsor means the company can position itself in a way that will offer a snapshot of its still growing alcove within the wireless industry.

“We’re working hard to provide the best devices and plans and to make our network better,” Miller said. “From a business perspective it’s really important to take full advantage of wireless devices (for their) efficiency and productivity.”

Telecom isn’t the only industry that will be back at EXPO both behind-the-scenes and in the booth. The 130-year-old BancorpSouth is making its 12th appearance as a sponsor. Marketing director Randy Burchfield said in an emailed statement that the event’s caliber of companies creates a “cream-of-the-crop atmosphere” that the regional bank is proud to continue to be a part of.

“We want everyone this year to know that in this economy a smile and handshake are two of the best advertising tools a business can have,” said MBJ advertising director Tami Jones. “EXPO is a great opportunity to put those tools to work.”

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