Cliff Barlow works for Total Handling Equipment. His company has been supplying industrial equipment to International Paper and Rohm and Hass in Moss Point for 14-years. But since IP has shut down and Rohm and Hass is closing its doors by the end of the year, Barlow's company and some others have lost sales.
Barlow says the cuts and closings have affected them to the point that they had to go out and look for other businesses to replace what they've lost over the period of time. Steve Jordan of Gulf Coast Marine Supply says his company lost about 5% of business due to the closings of IP and Rohm and Hass.
In fact, 25-companies that once did business with IP and other major industries in Jackson County, have pulled out of this year's trade show. Chairman Fred Warren says the show has lost exhibitors because of the business shutdowns in Jackson County. However, he's been able to get other vendors in to replace them.
Despite all the negative news about the county's economy, the mood at the trade show is very positive. Many companies are optimistic things will turn around in Jackson County. Cliff Barlow says he hopes to see growth this year. He says the economy has been down for the last 8 or 9 months, but he thinks it will pick right back up.
Fred Warren says there's another industry that's expected to come in that could employ about 400 people. He also believes Friede Goldman will get out of its financial troubles, and Jackson County will be in good shape.
The trade show is free, but you must be at least 18 years of age to enter. The trade show continues Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Jackson County Fairgrounds.