Lexington Bluegrass Area Minority Business Expo History
It’s said if you dream it, you can achieve it. The Lexington Bluegrass Area Minority Business Expo is an example of a dream becoming reality. Considered to be the premier business conference in Kentucky for minority and women-owned businesses, the 17th annual conference is sure to pave the way as The Future Is Now!
The EXPO began in 2002 as a vision of then Fayette Urban County Government’s Chief Administrative Officer, Milton Dohoney. He wanted to create a platform for businesses to showcase what they do, build contacts and business opportunities.
We have grown exponentially from just under 100 in 2002 to over 600. The format has evolved from a day-and-a half affair into a one-day event that addresses the business needs of companies of every size.
We have also attracted some well-known speakers including Stedman Graham, George Frazier, Patricia Russell-McCloud, Oscar Robertson, Lisa Nichols, Chris Gardner, Dr. Farrah Gray, Phil Wilkins, Dr. Randal Pinkett, Sheri Riley, Ashley Daniel Bell, Esq., Becky A. Davis, Ericka Porter MBA, and Tony Delk.
Leadership of the Expo has included individuals such as Lamar Davis (2007), Lisa Higgins Hord (2008–2009), Anthony Wright (2008–2012), Janet Beard (2012–2013), Marilyn Clark (2013–2017), and Sherita Miller and Mike Runyon (2018–2019). Tiffany Masden and Darlene Barber have taken the helm as chairs of the Expo and continue moving the conference forward.
The EXPO went high tech with online registration in 2013 and our email campaigns reach nearly 5,000 people each month. In 2014, New Age Communications, a minority owned Business, brought on-site real time electronic evaluations. We went mobile in 2017 thanks to PTACGo! which allows attendees to see the schedule, list of speakers and room locations on their mobile devices. We also established a Business Resource Center—a one stop shop of business service providers in one area to answer business questions. This year, the Business Pitch Competition will create new streams of opportunity for small businesses across the Commonwealth and beyond.
The conference wouldn’t be possible without the support of the major sponsors many of which have been with the Expo for years. Conference sponsors for 2019 include Presenting Sponsor Fifth Third Bank and Gold Sponsors, PNC Bank, Commerce Lexington, University of Kentucky Facilities Management, Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America, and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.
Other organizations that have contributed to the growth of the Expo include the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and our media partners, LM Communications including WBTF (107.9 The Beat), the Lexington Herald Leader, the Key News Journal, LaVoz de Kentucky, GraphicDS, b2enetwork.biz, LLC and Travel LYTE Vacations.