The Pittsburgh Business Show is heading into its second year on April 25th and 26th. Founders Linda Jo and Bryan Thornberg, both seasoned business owners, decided to create the show in the hopes that it becomes an integral piece of the growth and foundation of the Pittsburgh business landscape. With over 50 years of business development experience combined, Linda Jo and Bryan hope to continue to grow the Pittsburgh Business Show for many years to come. We had the opportunity to speak with Linda Jo ahead of the show.
PITTSBURGH BEAUTIFUL: Can you tell us a little about the Pittsburgh Business Show’s beginnings? How did the idea come about?
LINDA JO THORNBERG: It actually came about because my husband owns a digital marketing advertising agency. There are a lot of small and medium businesses in the Pittsburgh market. We’re surrounded by amazing communities and a lot don’t know about other businesses in the area. We tend to get caught up in our own communities. Being small business owners ourselves, we were frustrated. That’s when we thought about how to put all these businesses into one room. We started doing research and went to other cities in the country. Of course, we wanted to put a Pittsburgh spin on the event and support different businesses and communities—our economy is growing and there are so many different types of businesses and communities in the area. 2017 was our first year and we ended up with 157 businesses and just over 1,000 people came. This year, we’re expecting about the same amount of businesses but we’re hoping attendance will double. We like the show to be all about the community and giving back. Last year, our tickets were free but this year we hope more will come if we place a value on it. This year tickets will cost $79 but we never wanted to make a profit, so we will be supporting multiple charitable organizations like Junior Achievement of Western PA, The Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence, the Center for Organ Recovery and Education and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
PB: Why should businesses attend the show? How can they sign up?
LJT: It’s a place to connect and grow their business and to meet other businesses out there that they wouldn’t necessarily connect with in everyday life. We will be featuring 30 speakers as well talking about accountability and how to get to the next steps. They’ll be something for everyone. It’s all about education, connecting and growing businesses. It’s also not just about a two-day show. Our five-year plan is to take over the convention center. To register a booth, click here.
PB: Can you tell us a little bit about some of the businesses already signed up?
LJT: There’s Strayer Communication with Mark Strayer, an IT services and computer security company. There’s also Encore Event Design, one of our designers who came out last year. They were even on KDKA with me last year. Also, Grand Canyon University is flying in their president and team for programming at the event. Edinboro University, my alma mater Edinboro is launching a new MBA program at the show too. Live Nation is also in it this year.
PB: We’d love to learn a little bit about you. Is being an entrepreneur something you’ve always dreamed of doing?
LJT: I started out selling wedding gowns for David’s Bridal. We were taught to run each individual store as its own business. I had great leaders post-college who taught me that if we weren’t making numbers and a store wasn’t profitable to think outside the box. With my corporate training and background at Edinboro, I was able to take the skills and actually help other business owners take the same rules of engagement on how to think outside the box and make it happen. It tailored me to help make the show successful. It’s such a passion of mine, I don’t ever feel like I’m working. At the end of the day I feel good and blessed.
PB: What do you think makes Pittsburgh such a beautiful, unique city?
LJT: So many things! I grew up in the Mon Valley and when I left Pittsburgh for Indianapolis, my heart was always here. I was really homesick and always came home for Steelers and Pens games. So many things have changed since I was in high school in the late ’80s and ’90s. I ended up moving back home. I traveled all over for work but Pittsburgh was always home, like a large family to me. One of the most amazing things is anywhere we go and run into someone from Pittsburgh there’s always this automatic connection that translates into sports teams, crises, you name it. It is beautiful.
Businesses and Readers!