With the Buy Local Expo falling short of expectations, the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce will revive its once-popular Taste of Jackson in 2013.
“I think Jackson County knows Taste of Jackson — that’s a branded event that we’ve done for 18 years,” said Linda Foster, vice president of member services at the chamber of commerce.
The Taste of Jackson was scrapped by the chamber in early 2011 in favor of two other projects — a wings cook-off at YearOne in Braselton and the Jackson Derby. At that time, the Taste of Jackson had been a top revenue producer for the chamber, although income had slipped in recent years.
It was eventually replaced by the Buy Local Expo, which was held on Aug. 30, at the Jefferson Civic Center. The event welcomed an estimated 450 people, including exhibitors.
Sponsorship and attendance for the Buy Local Expo was below what chamber officials had expected, according to Foster.
“I think the 12 (noon) to 4 (p.m.) thing hurt us a little bit,” she said of this year’s event, which included an after-hours event until 7 p.m. “That’s a long day for the vendors.”
For 2013, the chamber will hold a combined Taste of Jackson and Buy Local Expo on Oct. 3, at the Jefferson Civic Center. It will be held from 5-8 p.m.
This year’s expo didn’t raise the cash that chamber officials had anticipated, either.
The Buy Local Expo was projected to raise $22,000, but brought in $16,800, Foster explained. The chamber’s expenses for the event totaled $6,500 — leaving the organization about $3,000 shy of its fundraising goal, she added.
In other business on Sept. 21, the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors:
•heard from Courtney Bernardi, director of economic development, who reported on a shift in the types of companies moving into Jackson County. While the county has seen plenty of distribution-type facilities in recent years, it is now welcoming more manufacturing businesses, she said. Companies based in Japan have been major factors in Jackson County, Bernardi said. Suppliers for Toyota and Kubota in Jackson County have started moving into the county, as well, although Jackson County hasn’t yet seen the anticipated suppliers for the new Caterpillar plant in Athens.
•learned that all three school systems in Jackson County will hold a joint college and career fair on March 28, at the Jefferson Civic Center. The event will be open to all 11th grade students in the county’s four high schools. That’s an estimated 800 students, who visit the fair at various times. The three school systems had been sponsoring their own college and career fairs in recent years.
•learned that the 2013 class of Leadership Jackson has decided that its project will benefit the Humane Society of Jackson County’s effort to build an animal shelter. For that, the chamber group will hold a “Plunge for Paws” polar bear plunge at Crow’s Lake in Jefferson in February. The latest Leadership Jackson class recently donated $4,100 to the Banks-Jackson Food Bank.
•learned that its annual Women in Business luncheon will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Braselton-Stover House. The chamber is accepting nominations for the Woman of the Year award until Friday, Oct. 12.