As the 30th annual Jackson County Industrial Trade Show is planned for March 19 at the B.E. “Mac” McGinty Civic Center in Pascagoula, one of the event founders reflected on the success of the business-building event.
Sandra Gibson was instrumental in establishing the event, which is well attended by local businesses and industry leaders each year.
“My husband and I owned an industrial supply business, Gibson Electric Motor, and we wanted and needed some way for Jackson County to show all of our wares,” she recalled.
She showed up for a chamber meeting and suggested an event to show off local goods, and the idea was a hit.
“We have several large industries here and we got the vendors and the industries involved in this. The theme was, ‘It’s all here in Jackson County,’” she said. “A lot of our businesses were buying out of town, out of state. With this event, it was like a flash going off. ‘OK! We can buy it local and help the local businesses!’”
At the first show, Gibson said, there were 54 vendors.
“It has grown from there every year,” she said. “From the first year, it was a success.”
The one-day event, which is open to the business community working in the industrial field, will be held this year from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The ribbon cutting will be held at 9 a.m. in the Fair Hall next to the Civic Center.
Sponsorships, booths and wall space advertising are now available through the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.
Gibson said she has many memories of the event, as she spent nine years as the event chairwoman.
“It was an adventure and exciting,” she said. “We’ve had governors to cut the ribbon, and I remember one year we had (Congressman) Larkin Smith come and cut our ribbon for us, and then he died in a plane crash just a couple of weeks after.”
Gibson said she can’t believe it’s been 30 years since the first show, but she knows the secret to a successful how.
“We need to keep it as much local vendors as possible because that was the very intent of it,” she said. “And when you’re at the trade show, you need to work the trade show. You need to greet the people and pull them into your booth with either a prize drawing or a little giveaway.”
The hard work pays off for vendors year after year, she said.
“You never know who that one person might be,” she said. “It might be a plant manager or someone like that. You need to work the booth while you are there, not just sit there.”