It’s hard to imagine the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO without the army of volunteers from the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership. These long-time EXPO supporters, the Chamber’s Ambassadors, are a friendly army and they contribute many hours to make the event a success.
Their involvement began when the EXPO was in its early days 29 years ago and had only a few booths. The event has grown to become the largest of its kind in the state, providing hundreds of exhibits, awards programs, seminars, business-after-hours networking and the Cyber Café. The Chamber’s Ambassadors have been there every step of the way.
“We don’t think the MBJ could have the EXPO without the ambassadors,” said the group’s leader Lynda Raines. “They work hard and do a lot.”
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About 40 Ambassadors will work at this year’s EXPO, wearing their Jackson Partnership badges and identification for their own businesses. These busy volunteers will be everywhere at the EXPO — taking tickets and greeting attendees, handing out bags, running errands, giving directions, answering questions, delivering supplies, and performing many other helpful tasks. Derrel Palmer, the voice of the Mississippi Braves, will volunteer his time and serve as the EXPO’s announcer. Other long time volunteers who are returning include Pat Ladnier, Paul Bowers and Quida Watson.
“We start early and some of the volunteers are there until the last person leaves,” she said. “They will do whatever the EXPO wants them to do.”
Raines, who worked with the Chamber full time for 22 years, is now working part time but still leads the group’s Ambassadors. She’s the only leader the volunteers have ever had and about 20 years ago revamped the group to make it stronger. “We exist to be an arm of the Chamber out in the community,” she said. “We represent the Chamber at different events such as ribbon cuttings, ground breakings and grand openings. In addition to the EXPO, we work the Governor’s Job Fair and the Susan G. Komen Race. All of the volunteers are very involved in the Chamber and the community, and they represent their companies for the Chamber.”
There are about 100 enlisted Chamber Ambassadors, and Raines says 75 are very actively involved. Some volunteer for a whole year while others for just a few months. Some have been doing it for a long time. “They’re a wonderful group. They work closely and become good friends and help each other get jobs when needed,” she said.