Annelle Whitt, president of the James & Annelle Whitt Entrepreneurial Development Foundation, signs a partnership agreement alongside Columbia College Associate Dean for Student Life, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Teo Cooper. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

Columbia College is partnering with the James & Annelle Whitt Entrepreneurial Development Foundation in a joint effort to elevate the impact of the annual Black Business Expo.

The 2024 edition of the event is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, in the New Hall Event Center (700 Cougar Drive, Columbia, MO 65216).

 “Columbia College is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the James & Annelle Whitt Entrepreneurial Development Foundation to collectively take the Black Business Expo to the next level,” says Dr. Teo Cooper, Columbia College’s associate dean for Student Life, Equity and Inclusion. “This expo brings our community together and is one of the most exciting events we host on campus every year.”

The special event, now in its fifth year, provides a space for thriving Black entrepreneurs throughout Columbia and mid-Missouri to share their products and services with the community.

The expo looks to build upon a record 60 vendors who showcased their offerings in 2023.

“This partnership is perfect synergy,” says Annelle Whitt, president of the James & Annelle Whitt Entrepreneurial Development Foundation. “We hope and believe it will be a long-standing relationship. The Black Business Expo is a phenomenal event celebrating entrepreneurship and collaboration.”

The James & Annelle Whitt Entrepreneurial Development Foundation creates and nurtures opportunities that further economic development in support of minority- and women-owned business enterprises across the region. The foundation provides SEED grants, business training workshops, coaching and mentoring services to increase businessowners’ competitiveness and success in the marketplace.

Columbia College has been helping students advance their lives through higher education for 173 years. As a private, nonprofit institution, the college takes pride in its small classes, experienced faculty and quality educational programs. Students may enroll in Day, Evening or Online classes. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has more than 97,000 alumni. For more information, visit ccis.edu.