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Volunteers essential to successful EXPO

Chamber’s Ambassadors lend many hands

Over its 28-year history the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO has grown from an event offering a few booths to the largest affair of its kind in Mississippi providing hundreds of exhibits, awards programs, seminars, business-after-hours networking and Cyber Cafe.

As the EXPO has grown, so has the number of volunteers from the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, a long-time EXPO supporter. The Chamber volunteers’ work has been essential to ensuring a quality EXPO experience for exhibitors and attendees alike.

The same will be true for the 2011 Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO, a special project of the Mississippi Business Journal. This year’s EXPO will be held April 7 from 9:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson.

“The Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO is a mammoth undertaking, and quite simply it would be impossible to offer Mississippi’s largest business-to-business trade show without the support of our sponsors, partners, exhibitors and volunteers,” said Alan Turner, publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. “The volunteers from the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership are asked to wear a number of hats, and every year they come through for us. Their role in EXPO cannot be understated.”

At approximately 67,000 square feet, the Mississippi Trade Mart, located at the State Fairgrounds, is big enough to hold more than two dozen average-sized houses and can take some time to fill with booths, tables, chairs, food, beverages, banners, signs and everything else that comes along with the event. Filling the Trade Mart with paraphernalia and then emptying it out once EXPO ends requires an enormous amount of work by an army of people.

Volunteers from the Chamber’s Ambassadors Council provide a large part of that army. Pre-event, they help with such efforts as preparing promotional materials and exhibitor set-up. After the show opens, the Ambassadors are asked to do everything from assisting with registration to subbing at booths for exhibitors to directing honorees to the awards hall and practically everything in between. And they will stick around to help with clean up, too.

The job description is simple — and daunting: Whatever is needed, be ready to do it. And be prepared for a lot of that work to go totally unnoticed.

Lynda Raines, director of membership services at the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, said the volunteers’ work helps promote the Chamber and its efforts to boost the metro Jackson area’s development

“They pretty much do whatever is asked,” said Raines in a previous interview with the MBJ. “Actually, they get points from me for doing it.”

Raines, who has perhaps attended more EXPOs than any other person in the event’s history, said the Chamber has traditionally provided between 20 and 30 volunteers for EXPO. It is only one of many events the Ambassadors Council uses to spread the word about the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership.

“They are all over the metro area,” Raines said. “They are phenomenal, and they really represent us well. They are very well-seen and that makes for good exposure for us.”

For more information on the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership and its Ambassadors Council, visit www.greaterjacksonpartnership.com/.

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