Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Black Expo Helps Build Relationships; Workshops Focus on Business Opportunities

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Black Expo Helps Build Relationships; Workshops Focus on Business Opportunities

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN CARTER

It was a community expo, huge, like others that have filled downtown's convention center.

What made this expo unique was the target audience -- African-Americans.

For the fourth year in a row, Florida Black Expo filled the Prime Osborn Convention Center with more than 200 exhibitors, attracting an estimated 16,000 visitors.

Special guests included actors Shemar Moore and Danny Glover and gospel singer Shirley Caesar.

"It was a big success this year," said Darrin Thomas, event organizer. "We were a little slow last year because of the hurricanes that impacted Northeast Florida, but this year we bounced back in a big way."

Thomas said he's proud of the impact the expo is having in Jacksonville, and particularly proud of the impact it's having on black-run businesses.

"One of our main goals is to create an environment where relationship-building can take place," he said. "The many seminars and workshops we offer provide a lot of insight into how to network and interface with the corporate community. It's making a difference in Jacksonville."

The heart of the expo, Thomas said, is to focus on identifying and developing significant business opportunities for black-owned businesses and to emphasize greater awareness of entrepreneurship among African-Americans.

"One of our goals is to serve as a liaison that builds and strengthens relationships between black businesses, major corporations and government agencies," he said.

Thomas said the expo is also intended to educate, entertain and enlighten visitors.

"Our traveling history exhibit was very informative and well received this year," he said. "And we were proud to bring someone like Danny Glover to town, someone who is not only a great actor, but an activist who is very politically aware and enlightening."

Thomas said the expo is a family-oriented event that exposes the community to business opportunities and cultural resources. …

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