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As summer fades, MBJ team gears up for EXPO

It’s probably a little known fact that our Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO trade show, which comes around every January, was not part of the Mississippi Business Journal prior to our buying the paper. In fact, we bought the show as an afterthought once the deal for buying the paper was negotiated.

Initially, I had reservations about mixing apples and oranges by having a trade show living inside a newspaper company. Strategically it didn’t make sense, at first anyway. Now the show has become the important centerpiece of the post-holiday, shake-off-the-turkey-and-dressing-and-let’s-get-back-to-work program for the Mississippi business community. It still doesn’t make strategic sense, but it’s a great show and we enjoy putting it together.

A really big deal

For those who have not attended EXPO, it’s a really big deal. We have somewhere around 200 exhibitors showcasing all kinds of business products and services. The show lasts two days — always on a Wednesday and Thursday. This year’s show will be held at the Mississippi Trade Mart building on the state fairgrounds here in Jackson on January 17th and 18th.

In addition to our booth exhibits, we have several impressive programs that are showcased at EXPO. The show gets underway with a breakfast on Wednesday morning recognizing the Best Places to Work in Mississippi. It’s a new program, this being its second year, but it quickly earned its place as an important awards program for Mississippi employers.

At noon on Wednesday, we have one of most important events of our year, recognition of the Top 40 Under 40 honorees. Over the 14 years that we have produced the Top 40 event, some of the sharpest young business movers and shakers in Mississippi have passed through the program and moved on to leadership roles in their communities.

Though I don’t choose the winners, I do read the biographical information submitted with the nomination package and I’m always seriously impressed with the quality of nominees.

Mix and mingle

The Business After Hours party, held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, rounds out the first day with about 2000 attendees mingling and networking, both with each other and with the exhibitors. Live music and a festive atmosphere accompany great food from areas restaurants.

On Thursday, we’ll host Mississippi’s Business Woman of the Year luncheon where we’ll unveil, as you’ve probably guessed, Mississippi’s top business woman for 2007. In prior years some of Mississippi’s most outstanding women business leaders have been honored with the top spot, including Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth (St. Dominic Health Services), Robyn Tannehill (GodwinGroup), Gail Pittman (Gail Pittman Inc.), Dr. Frances Lucas (Millsaps College), Eleanor Rogers (Quality Hospice), D’Auby Schiel (Community Bank Coast) and last year’s winner, Linda C. Watts (Mississippi Power Company).

Solid core

Though the events are exciting, the core of the program is the exhibitors. We will be showcasing business technology products and services, coffee vendors, healthcare providers, colleges and trade schools, financial products and services and nonprofits such as Junior Achievement and the Mississippi Animal Rescue League. Surely, in that plethora of exhibitors, there’s something for everyone.
Hinds Community College, through its Eagle Ridge RCU, will be conducting seminars covering a wide spectrum of timely and interesting subjects. From networking techniques to team-building strategies, valuable information will be imparted to participants. And, it’s free. Check out the schedule in the MBJ the week prior and also posted near the EXPO entrance for times and topics.

Sponsors make it possible

Our sponsor partners are the key to putting on first-class programs. They provide the funding that makes it all possible. And, without their support, we couldn’t produce quality experiences that participants will cherish for the rest of their lives. We’ll announce this year’s event sponsors in upcoming editions of the MBJ as the slots are filled.

We are very pleased to announce that for the third year running Comcast Business Class (formerly Time Warner Cable) will be the title sponsor for the Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO. They are strong partners and have worked to make the show bigger and better.

Producing EXPO takes all hands on the deck during the fall months and the process is underway. It’s a stretch for our staff to put the show together, but the end result is worth the strain.

Thought for the Moment

He who has confidence in himself will lead the rest.
— poet Horace (65-8 B.C.E.)

Joe D. Jones, CPA (retired), is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.


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