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2012 MBJ EXPO puts spotlight on Mississippi business

For Jim McIntyre, any day is a good day to fly a flag.

But the day of the Mississippi Business Journal’s Business & Technology EXPO is an especially good day to fly a flag, or two, or three, or….

McIntrye, owner of A Complete Flag Source at 5295 1-55 North, has been setting up a booth at the newspaper’s EXPO for the past 10 years. His was among about 70 businesses and organizations that exhibited at the 28th EXPO held at the Trade Mart in Jackson April 5.

State flags, flags of most any nation, collegiate flags, military flags, seasonal flags, flags for your garden or even flags that you customize and design yourself — McIntrye says he can provide them.

Otherwise, he would not be the complete flag source, he said.

His store provides the poles and installation as well, McIntrye noted.

The best seller?

Old Glory, of course.

Cindy Cobb and Jennifer Scoggins weren’t promoting merchandise. Their mission on EXPO day was to promote hope for a cure for breast cancer.

“We’re trying to get branded here,” said Cobb, who staffed the Susan G. Komen for the Cure booth along with volunteer Scoggins.

“A lot of people don’t know what we do” and raising Komen’s profile at EXPO helps to change that, said Cobb, special events coordinator for Komen’s Jackson chapter.

Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization and the largest source of non-profit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer. It has invested more than $1.3 billion so far, the organization says.

A number of the exhibitors set up shop at the EXPO to acquaint visitors with their company’s technology offerings.

The Thinkwebstore’s Matthew Jackson spent the day informing passers-by of his company’s service offerings, which include everything from logo and business card designs, web sites to a full-blown social media presence.

The company has never been busier, said Jackson, project coordinator.

“We’re building custom sites for businesses,” he said of Thinkwebstore’s social media business. The store is at 655 Lake Harbour Drive.

At the TEC (Telephone Electronics Corp.) booth, Beth Garland took some time to tell some of her company’s unique history. Today TEC provides a range of telecom services from broadband to VoIP and conferencing services. But its roots go back to 1923 in Bay Springs, where it was an independent telephone company created to serve the tiny Mississippi community.

It still has a presence in Bay Springs but its principal operation is in Jackson, where its 24/7 call center is located, Garland said.

“We’re at EXPO to primarily promote that we are the technology solution,” she said, and touted TEC’s Hosted PBX as a new affordable and easy-to-maintain office communications option.

Comcast continued its annual presence at EXPO. Last year the cable television and Internet service provider was heralding the arrival of its 50 meg fast Internet service. “Soon to arrive,” said Comcast’s Rob Bounds, is the 100 meg service.

Bounds also spent EXPO day detailing to visitors Comcast’s newest PRI Primary telecom service, which essentially is a phone network that offers a mainline and 23 extensions. That capability has now been doubled to a “2 PRI,” Bounds said.

Technology companies, especially start-ups, are a major focus of the Mississippi Technology Alliance. The public-private partnership serves an incubator for tech companies, helping them develop their product or service and assisting them in reaching the marketing stage, according to Reagan Jackson, a representative of the Alliance who staffed its EXPO booth.

“It’s exciting to be getting our name out, and advancing what the possibilities are for technology in general,” she said.

If you have a great business idea or want to hear from others have been developing, you may want to attend the Mississippi Technology Alliance’s Fifth Annual Mississippi New Venture Challenge May 22 at the Jackson Convention Complex.

With beach season having arrived and women wanting to look their best in their swimsuits, The Fitness Lady is catching interest from potential members. EXPO provided an opportunity for the ladies-only fitness center to detail its fitness offerings at both its Madison/Ridgeland and Brandon/Pearl centers, said Laurie Coleman, a fitness director for The Fitness Lady.

Both centers have swimming pools, nutrition counseling, aerobic training rooms, a full array of fitness machines and rooms dedicated to free-weights. What Fitness Lady does not have is men, Coleman said.

“No men — no intimidation,” she said. “That’s a big selling point.”

One place that is assuredly co-ed is the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum. The facility is a destination for people who want a close up look at the lives and exploits of Mississippi’s greatest athletes — and there’s no shortage of legends with Mississippi roots or ties, said Cully Turner, building supervisor for The Hall.

The Hall will soon be under the leadership of longtime Clarion-Ledger sports writer and columnist Rick Cleveland. “He’ll be sitting down with the staff and setting our priorities,” said Turner, who manned The Hall’s booth at EXPO.

To be installed in The Hall, an athlete must have been born or reared in Mississippi or played four years of collegiate sports in the state. Also eligible are coaches, sports announcers and sports journalists.

Lawyer Vic W. Carmody specializes in defending motorists charged with driving under the influence. It’s a specialty in which the former Special Forces member and Jackson police lieutenant has gained notice throughout the state.

Too often, he said, people charged with DUI think a conviction is inevitable. That’s not so, said Carmody, whose firm exhibited at EXPO for its second consecutive year.

His EXPO mission, he said, was to help “educate the public” that a driver can safely and legally operate a vehicle after moderate consumption of alcohol.

He provides a blood-alcohol consumption chart by which a person can gauge by his weight how many ounces of alcohol he can consume in a specified period and remain within the legal limits.

Another tip: If you imbibe at a restaurant or bar, be sure to ask the establishment to give you a receipt for your drinks, said Carmody, who added he has represented defendants in about 8,000 DUI cases in his law career.

If you are cited after leaving, that receipt “won’t mean a thing to the officer. But it will help me. That bar bill is worth its weight in gold.”

Weight — or, more specifically helping people lose it — is the goal of clients of IT Works, said distributors Denise Guillory and Bethany Hootsell.

The pair set up at EXPO to acquaint people with body application and contouring products, as well as nutritional supplements, they say will help people tighten, tone and firm their bodies.

IT Works is a 20-year-old Tarpon Springs, Fla., home-based franchising operation in which distributors acquaint individuals and groups with the weight-loss product. Essentially, a contouring applicator is wrapped around the body and releases a fat-shrinking, detox product through the pores of the skin, said Guillory.

The fat-busting process begins within 45 minutes, though the process progressively diminishes fat cells over a 72-hour period that the wrap is worn, she said.

“We have wrap parties where the charge is $25 to get wrapped.”

Speaking of parties, EXPO became one at the end of the day.

A host of area restaurants set up serving areas to let visitors sample their many menu offerings. These included King Edward, Lumpkins BBQ, Olga’s Fine Dining and the Downtown Café.

And if you’re feet weren’t too tired from visiting the many exhibitors, you could dance to the rhythm and blues sounds of Chris Gill and the Sole Shakers.


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