Black-tie gala marks start of annual chamber business expo

The annual Business & Lifestyles Exposition, set for May 13 through 15 at Yack Arena in Wyandotte, again will kick off with one of the region’s largest and most-anticipated formal events of the year.

The expo’s Black-Tie Preview Party, set for 6 to 9 p.m. May 13, is expected to attract upward of 1,000 attendees — all of whom will have the chance to sample the culinary specialties of more than 25 restaurants and be among the first to view the nearly 75 exhibits on display.

Sponsored by the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber, the black-tie and expo will feature a few new twists this year as well, said Sandy Mull, interim chamber president.

Noteworthy new features include a Women’s Expo “inside the expo” and a Saturday Family Fashion Show. Detroit radio personality Linda Lanci will host the show, which will feature affordable fashions from Wal-Mart.

Tickets for the black-tie preview are $65 for members and $75 for nonmembers, and can be purchased at or by calling (734) 284-6000. Along with the displays, black-tie highlights include a performance by Frank Sinatra tribute artist Kevin Sands, and a formalwear fashion show by Traffic Jam. A black-tie raffle also will give away more than 30 prizes.

The Business & Lifestyles Exposition is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 14, and from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. May 15. Admission on Friday and Saturday is $2 for adults. Children 12 and under will be admitted free. Complimentary tickets also are available in advance at area branch offices of PNC Bank.

The expo also will feature a business workshop Friday morning and a networking event for young professionals at the end of the day.

Mull said the show floor also will feature two stages this year instead of one to accommodate more presentations. One of the presentations will showcase the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau helping Downriver businesses look at ways to cooperate in marketing tourism-related businesses and events.

The addition of the Saturday fashion show is part of an ongoing effort to attract more families to the expo. Last year’s event introduced the first Family Fun Zone, offering games and activities for children. “The Family Fun Zone was a big success, so we’re repeating it and actually expanding it this year,” Mull said.

Other attractions include Green Street, which will highlight businesses offering environmentally sensitive products and/or services, as well as those that have adopted sustainable practices.

Businesses and organizations interested in sponsorship opportunities or reserving exhibit space can contact Mary Pottorff at, or by calling (734) 284-6000, ext. 28.