Candidates, business, to mix at church expo

A political forum for Clayton County candidates will headline a business expo to be held next weekend at a Jonesboro church.

Business Expo 2012, presented by Divine Faith’s Business Alliance ministry, will feature workshops, vendor showcases and even an “amateur night of the creative arts,” according to Tashiba Dawson, who’s organizing the event for her church. The expo starts Friday, June 29, at 7 p.m., and wraps up on Sunday, July 1, just after noon.

Dawson said Divine Faith is staging the event to “increase the visibility of small-business owners” and to encourage them to stay in Clayton County during tough economic times.

The political roundtable discussion is at 10 a.m. Saturday. Candidates who have accepted invitations thus far include Georgia State Sen. Valencia Seay; Clayton County Chairman Eldrin Bell; Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley; Clayton County Commissioner Wole Ralph and challenger Shana Rooks; District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson; Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker; and Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, with challengers Victor Hill and Jon Antoine. U.S. Rep. John Lewis is also expected to attend. Dawson said that other candidates have been invited and are expected to accept between now and next Saturday. She and Shegale Thurmond of Divine Faith will moderate and take questions from the audience.

Because the expo will “target all aspects of business, even the entertainment industry,” Dawson said, Friday’s schedule will kick off with a show by up-and-coming performers. This isn’t karaoke night — acts that perform will have passed an audition to make it that far, Dawson said, adding that “there’s going to be some really tough talent.”

Workshops scheduled for Saturday will cover financial security, wealth management, customer service and more. There will also be a vendor showcase, anchored by established businesses like Costco, Watkins Funeral Home, and agents for State Farm and Allstate, as well as a variety of new businesses that include everything from dance studios to website designers.

The expo will close out with Divine Faith’s Sunday-morning services, where Pastor Donald Battle will offer a “Spiritual Impartation on Finances.”

Divine Faith Ministries International is located at 9800 Tara Blvd. in Jonesboro. For more information, call (770) 603-0025 or e-mail businessalliance@divinefaith.org.