EXPO 2004 features food, fun and good company

by Lynne W. Jeter

Published: January 19,2004

About 4,000 people are expected later this week at the state`s largest business-to-business networking event. The 21st annual Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO begins Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the Mississippi Trademart in Jackson with a kick-off breakfast saluting business and industry and ends Thursday, Jan. 22, shortly after the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year of 2003 is named.

“We’re enjoying our 21st year of producing the Mississippi Business EXPO,” said Mississippi Business Journal publisher Joe D. Jones, CPA. “During the eight years I have been involved with EXPO, I have seen a little trade show grow into a significant business-to-business event. This year`s budget is about 20% higher than last year`s, and last year was a record! For the exhibitors, the show offers a crowd of qualified buyers all in one place that would require a year to call on individually. Alternatively, the attendees get access to a vast array of products and services in one group that would take an immense amount of time to visit at their places of business.”

Robbie L. Bell, director of special projects for MBJ, said event organizers realize that people don`t have time to waste when trying to gather information to make business decisions.

“What better way to save time and consolidate efforts than to go to one place and find solutions as diverse as Internet, telecommunications, real estate and construction, insurance, staffing, financial, interiors, events and tourism, media and advertising, higher education, government agencies that assist businesses, nonprofit organizations that offer opportunities for community service and many other office operations services? It`s all at the Mississippi Business EXPO,” she said.

Bell said there`s “an invigorating new hum in the air” this year because “we have many new exhibitors joining the ‘regulars’ and believe that attendees will catch that enthusiasm, too.” The EXPO expanded this year to include more technology exhibitors, and this is reflected in the EXPO`s new name.

Mississippi Technology Alliance (MTA) president and CEO Andy Taggart said the science and technology economic development organization plans to continue expanding its EXPO role.

“The EXPO has always been the biggest business showcase in the State of Mississippi,” he said. “As long-time admirers of both the EXPO and the Mississippi Business Journal, we at the Mississippi Technology Alliance wanted to be a part of shining a spotlight at this year`s EXPO on the tech- and knowledge-based enterprises in Mississippi.”

Because MTA is a non-profit enterprise, and its job is to serve the people of Mississippi by enhancing the environment for knowledge-based business creation and the commercialization of research and ideas out of the state`s universities and private labs, Taggart said participating in a high-profile activity like EXPO 2004 “fits right in the wheelhouse of our mission.”

Four special events — Salute to Business and Industry Kick-off Breakfast, Top 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon, Business After Hours and Mississippi Business Woman of the Year Luncheon — are expected to draw nearly 3,000 attendees, with successful Mississippians gracing the stage as keynote speakers and entertainers.

“Ticket availability is fleeting,” said Bell. “Anyone who has not already made arrangements to attend the events needs to do so right this red hot minute,” she added with a laugh.

Saluting business and industry

About 400 people are expected to attend the Salute To Business & Industry Kick-Off Breakfast, beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 21, where keynote speaker Con Maloney, president of Cowboy Maloney Electric City, former owner of the Jackson Generals baseball team and former legislator, will unveil a new trick: creating on-the-spot ads.

“I couldn`t hit a baseball 400 feet and wasn`t particularly gifted as a singer or dancer, or any of the things that might have made me a lot of money, but it`s relatively easy for me to do commercials,” said Maloney. “If your company sells typewriter ribbons, all you need to do is tell me your company`s name and where it`s located and what you want to promote and I`ll very quickly do a commercial for you. I’ve never done it before in this type of setting so I don`t know whether it`ll work or not, but I`ll sure try.”

Event sponsors are Trustmark, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and SuperTalk Mississippi.

“Trustmark has been a sponsor of the EXPO for over 20 years,” said Gray Wiggers, senior vice president of marketing for Jackson-based Trustmark. “We believe it is important to recognize the companies, both large and small, that have made significant contributions to the metro Jackson area. These are well-managed businesses and organizations that are industry leaders who not only help produce a strong local economy but also improve our quality of life through their charitable contributions and volunteerism.”

Paul Gallo, talk show host and general manager of WFMN-FM, the SuperTalk Mississippi Network flagship station in Jackson, said event sponsorship “is a no brainer.”

“Research indicates that our statewide audience is composed of business leaders, owners, CEOs and, as we say on the morning show, movers, shakers and playmakers,” he said. “It`s the best way to reach those targeted demographics. It always is an ideal way to work with those same folks, like Con Maloney and people at the Mississippi Business Journal, to promote business throughout the state of Mississippi.”

Last year`s Salute to Business & Industry division winners included:

• The CPI Group, small commercial

• Venture Technologies, medium commercial

• Entergy Mississippi, large commercial

• Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, industrial

• Old Capitol Inn, small food/lodging

• Grand Casino Biloxi, large food/lodging

• St. Dominic Health Services, health

• Reed`s, retail

• Hope Haven of Hancock County, Inc., small nonprofit

• Jackson Medical Mall Foundation and Mississippi Food Network, medium nonprofit

• Hospice Ministries Inc., large nonprofit

• Heritage Hospice Inc., most promising emerging company

• Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, most innovative company

“This year, we added a split in the non-profit category,” said Bell. “We felt that it would be more equitable for charitable groups to compete against similar organizations, so they now comprise the nonprofit area. Associations and agencies that exist for the support of specific business and industries are now categorized in their own area of competition.”

The level of quality in all entries was once again very high, said Bell.

“Our judges commented that commitment to quality of life in their communities is a common thread with many Mississippi companies, and this plays a major role in determining the winners of the Salute to Business & Industry awards,” she said. “Companies which encourage their employees to participate in community organizations send a message of good corporate citizenship. That is refreshing in today`s business climate, and we hope the examples set by Salute finalists and winners will be followed by increasingly more companies throughout the state.”

The competition has absolutely nothing to do with a company`s bottom line, said Bell, “but more with its heart.”

Tickets to the Salute to Business & Industry Kick-Off Breakfast are $25 each or $175 for a table of eight. EXPO exhibits will open after the ribbon cutting at 9 a.m.

Honoring the state`s best and brightest

About 525 people are expected to attend the state`s most high-profile event for young business leaders in Mississippi. The 11th-annual Top 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon, held from noon to 2 p.m. on Jan. 21, features the Class of 2003 and is sponsored by Ada
ms and Reese, LLP, BancorpSouth and Eyevox.

“Though all the facets of EXPO are exciting to me, none compares to the opportunity to recognize 40 outstanding young people who represent the future of our state,” said Jones. “Studying the accomplishments of this bunch is an humbling experience that leaves me full of hope for the future.”

Charles P. Adams Jr., managing partner of Adams and Reese, said he has long been impressed with the Mississippi Business EXPO and especially the Top 40 Under 40 recipients.

“Our firm is proud to sponsor this important event so the best and brightest can continue to receive the recognition they so richly deserve,” said Adams.

Amy Braud, marketing director for Eyevox, one of Mississippi`s Fast 40 companies in 2003, said company owner Rick Moore, who is also an under 40 business owner, has always been impressed with the people who are chosen “because they have managed to effectively balance their work and home lives with community service.”

“Especially because we’re a young company, the Top 40 recipients are role models for us,” she said.

David Barrentine, president of the mid-Mississippi region of BancorpSouth, said the bank “is proud to partner with Mississippi Business Journal in recognizing the Top 40 Under 40 program, which salutes the brightest and best of Mississippi`s future.”

Tickets to the Top 40 Under 40 luncheon are $40 each or $280 for a table of eight.

The state`s best networking party

After a week`s worth of pressing the flesh during Gov. Haley Barbour`s inaugural festivities, business associates may enjoy taking a break to sample delicacies from 25 area restaurants and to be entertained by Meet the Press at EXPO Business After Hours, scheduled 4 p.m.-7 p.m. on Jan. 21, and sponsored by AmSouth, MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce and WLBT-TV.

“From our news coverage of business and the economy to providing effective advertising for our clients, WLBT recognizes the value of the exchange of ideas at Mississippi Business EXPO,” said Dan Modisett, vice president and general manager of WLBT-TV in Jackson. “Business After Hours gives various types of companies an opportunity to meet and socialize together with great entertainment from Meet the Press and a sampling of the best dishes from area restaurants. Every year, our staff looks forward to this event.”

AmSouth is pleased to co-sponsor Business After Hours in conjunction with EXPO ‘04, said Tony Sims, marketing administrator for AmSouth in Mississippi.

“Across the state, we do our best to support the business communities we serve and position our customers for success wherever possible,” he said. “This event will be a great opportunity for people to continue their ‘meeting, greeting and networking’ in a more relaxed setting, complete with great food and live entertainment.”

Financial executive Robert Collier formed Meet The Press (MTP), based in Gulfport, in September 1990. “Our versatility is our trademark,” he said.

They might open with music by The Temptations, The Gap Band or Stevie Wonder. When MTP collaborated with Jerry Lee Lewis, the band played Elvis tunes.

“If you want to just listen to music, stay home and turn on your stereo,” said Collier. “If you want to experience real music, it`s time for you to Meet The Press.”

Admission to Business After Hours is free with a Mississippi Business EXPO ticket.

A true power lunch

About 500 of the state`s most powerful businesswomen, their families, friends and associates will gather for the EXPO`s second most popular event, the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year luncheon, sponsored by Baptist Health Systems, BellSouth Mississippi and the Mississippi Economic Council.

“This is the target audience for every healthcare organization because women make up approximately 70% of the healthcare decisions for their families,” said Ginger Cocke, director of corporate communications for Baptist Health Systems and a member of the Mississippi 50 Leading Business Women Class of 2001. “We’re the women who are shuffling job and family responsibilities and we’re the ones who need to know how to access healthcare quickly and conveniently.”

Even though the annual program has been in place for several years, Mississippi`s Business Woman of the Year began during EXPO 2000, with the selection of Sister Mary Dorothea Sondgeroth, president of St. Dominic Health Services in Jackson. GodwinGroup advertising executive Robin Tannehill of Oxford, artist Gail Pittman, CEO of Ridgeland-based Gail Pittman Inc., and Frances Lucas-Tauchar, president of Millsaps College in Jackson, were respective winners for 2001, 2002 and 2003.

“BellSouth is delighted to once again be a sponsor of Mississippi Business EXPO,” said BellSouth Mississippi spokesperson Michael Walker. “We applaud the women who are being recognized for their achievements in the business world and their overall contributions to their respective communities.”

Jackson native Ann Cashion, a celebrated restaurateur in Washington, D.C., and the keynote speaker for the event, will examine the relationship between artists and entrepreneurs and the way in which those two temperaments have played themselves out in her career.

“An invitation to address a group of this caliber is a big honor,” she said. “If I can hold their interest and entertain them for 15 or 20 minutes, that`s the best I can hope to accomplish.”

Tickets for the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year luncheon are $35 each or $250 per table of eight.

Quiet meditation time, please

Kristina Kelly`s life changed a year ago because of the positive effects of yoga.

“Yoga helped me put my life in perspective, and understand that work does not come first, but my family,” said Kelly, RYT (registered yoga teacher), owner of Corporate Stress Management in Pearl. “So I decided to do what I love and share it with others. Stress is a horrible thing that people don`t know how to deal with. We’re under chronic stress at work. It leads to so many diseases, and is the leading cause of obesity. It`s the number one cause of death in the workplace, and that`s frightening. That`s why I want to bring yoga to the corporate world.”

Kelly`s “Interactive Desk-Side Yoga and Relaxation Techniques,” presented Jan. 21 at 1 p.m., is one of 10 free 45-minute seminars offered during EXPO ‘04, sponsored by AT&T Wireless. Six seminars will be offered on the hour on Jan. 21, beginning at 10 a.m. with “Quality Service: Developing Workplace Champions,” presented by author and training specialist Bob Litro. Four seminars will be presented Jan. 22 on the half hour, beginning at 10:30 a.m. with “How to Select a General Contractor,” presented by the Mississippi Associated Builders & Contractors.

Longtime seminar presenter The DelKen Group, a Ridgeland-based full-service human resources company, will offer three seminars, including “Wisdom of Wolves: Management and Leadership Skills Learned from Human and Animal Nature,” held at 3 p.m. on Jan. 21.

“Wisdom of Wolves takes the habits of a wolf pack and parallels them with the habit of work teams and shows how wolf habits can be used to increase the production of teams and to improve communications between its members,” Ken Barlow, president of the DelKen Group.

Barlow returns to the EXPO every year because, he quipped, “socialization and business growth under one roof, what could be better?”

“It is a once a year opportunity for business professionals to increase their awareness of new trends and new products that will increase the work effectiveness and perhaps increase their profits within their business,” he said. “It also gives them an opportunity to make new contacts and attend seminars that are designed to support the business community.&#8221
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And, of course, plenty of little extras

Sponsored by Time Warner Cable, the popular Cyber Caf

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