When the 26th annual Business Expo kicks off on May 2, visitors will see some new features, according to Kali Walker, event coordinator for the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking to the West Pine Bluff Rotary Cub on Thursday, Walker said one of the new features will be a theme, Hidden Treasures, with a pirate motif at the chambers booth, and throughout the expo.
Another change will be the VIP premiere, will be open to exhibitors and their guests from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., before the doors open to the general public at 11 a.m.
This is something we’re doing to try and help the exhibitors make their contacts,” Walker said. “We know that for a lot of the general public, they attend because of the free stuff.”
Unlike last year, the business breakfast will feature a guest speaker, but Walker said Thursday the identity of that person has not been determined as yet.
‘We’re still going to do the business awards for small business, large business and non-profit business,” Walker said. “That won’t change and nomination forms will go out soon.”
Hours for the expo are also being cut back, with the doors continuing to open at 9 a.m., but shutting down at 2 p.m., an hour earlier than last year.
“We saw that the crowds started to dwindle down in the afternoon,” Walker said.
She said Jefferson Regional Medical Center will conduct its health fair again this year, and “Community Spotlight” will allow non-profit, community service and human services agencies space to showcase their services at no cost.
In addition to the business expo, Walker also talked about another program she is involved in, bringing back a Jefferson County Young Professionals group.
“Pine Bluff people are wonderful and there are a lot of young people that are ready to make a difference,” she said.
While the organization would be primarily made up of people under 40, Walker said it would “need seasoned people to lead us.”
To make their mark and develop an identity that they would be known for, Walker proposed bringing back “Taste of Pine Bluff,” which was a popular feature at business expos in the past, but changing it to “Taste of Southeast Arkansas,” featuring products from Southeast Arkansas like tomatoes from Warren, Riceland Rice and others, and inviting “celebrity chefs” from the state to cook their products.
“We’re still in the beginning stages but it could be something really cool,” Walker said. “This would be one more thing where we could come together as a community.”