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Programs and events played to full house for two days at Trade Mart

I'll definitely give ya a buzz when I come to town next.

Sponsors, exhibitors, partners and attendees are still abuzz about the 2009 Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO recently held at the Mississippi Trademart in Jackson. The awards programs played to full houses, tradeshow floor traffic was steady and the Business After Hours networking event may have set a new attendance record.

“EXPO proved, once again, that it’s a winner,” MBJ EXPO Project Manager Ashley Varnes said. “The national economy and the opening of the Jackson Convention Complex (which was held concurrently) were just a couple of the challenges we faced. However, we were beyond pleased with attendance.

“I cannot say enough how important our sponsors and partners were in making this year’s EXPO a success. When you have sponsors like Comcast Business Class, which was again the title sponsor, Mississippi Development Authority, BancorpSouth and other topflight organizations, it gives a firm foundation upon which to build an event that has become the largest business-to-business tradeshow in Mississippi.”

People started to pour in early on Day 1 for the Best Places to Work Kick-off Breakfast, sponsored by Mississippi Development Authority and Teklinks. More than 375 attendees watched as 50 businesses, including first-, second- and third-place winners in four size categories, were recognized. Entertainment was provided by bluesman Jesse Robinson. Food was provided by Mangia Bene, Jeff Good’s restaurant “consortium” of Bravo!, Broadstreet and Sal & Mookie’s, which catered all three of EXPO’s awards programs, provided eats in Vendors Lounge and participated in the Business After Hours event.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the tradeshow floor opened. More than 150 exhibitors were on hand. Tradeshow floor-goers also took advantage of the Technology Cluster (sponsored by the Mississippi Technology Alliance and SafetyNets), the ABC Construction Aisle (presented by the Mississippi chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors), the Convention and Tourism Mall (brought by McGehee Cruise & Vacation) and the Activity Aisle, featuring the Alluvian Spa, Trio, cartoonist Ricky Noble and magician Robert Day.

Throughout both days free training sessions were offered on a wide range of topics. Professional trainers from Hinds Community College’s Eagle Ridge Conference Center and Mississippi State University led the sessions.

The Vendors Lounge provided treats from Mangia Bene as well as beverages from Community Coffee and Coke. Staffers Inc. offered staffing services.

Approximately 450 people filed in for the Top 40 Under 40 Luncheon, sponsored by BancorpSouth and Cellular South. Music was provided by Raphael Semme’s Swing de Paris jazz band and vocalist Allison Jenkins.

Organizers estimated the Business After Hours crowd at nearly 2,500.

The event offered food from Mangia Bene, Mint, Julep, A VIP Grand Event/Luckett Lodge, AJ’s on the Lake, The Parker House, Steam Room Grille and Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano, and music from longtime crowd favorite The Chill. Sponsor of the event was BCI.

The awards programs wrapped up on Day 2 with the Business Woman of the Year Luncheon, sponsored by BankPlus, St. Domonic Health Services and Mississippi Economic Council. Approximately 400 people celebrated Joey Garner, vice president of TEC, being named the top businesswoman.

The 2010 Business & Technology EXPO will be held Jan. 13-14. For more information, contact Varnes at (601) 364-1013 or Ashley.varnes@msbusiness.com.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.


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