Expo showcases businessesPublished 6:03pm Thursday, October 4, 2012
Edwardsburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s third annual Business Expo Sept. 27 filled Hope United Methodist Church’s hall with almost 60 vendors spanning the spectrum of what’s available to the community.
Some were brand-new and in need of exposure, such as Tara Rehrer’s brand-new, colorful booth, Duct Tape Designs, and GEM (Girls En Motion) Bakery, which owner Lorraine Shotwell created in April for mentoring teenage girls.
Members of Edwardsburg High School Leos circulated through the crowd serving food samples supplied by restaurants.
Making purses and other sturdy decorative items with patterned duct tape, including school colors, is something Tara can do with her daughter, Cassidy, 12, at their home in South Bend.
“It’s definitely bigger than last year,” said Tearsa Smith of Dowagiac, education consultant for Usborne Books and More, which conducts direct sales through home shows and book fairs. “There’s a lot more foot traffic. It was publicized better.
“I’ve done shows as far up as Wyoming, Mich., and as far south as Milford and Nappanee. I do a drawing, so mostly I’m seeing Elkhart and Edwardsburg, a few Niles and some of the other Cass County areas. I was promoted to team leader of 10 in January.”
Edwardsburg Public Schools Foundation promoted events it sponsors to raise scholarship funds, such as ballroom dancing Nov. 10 and donkey basketball March 9 with the fire department.
For established businesses, the expo afforded an opportunity to show other facets.
Christianson Industries on May Street, for example, makes ladders for recreational vehicles as a metal fabricator and custom welder, but there is an aircraft side of the business.
Sky Ox, acquired from Benton Harbor in 1993, offers a complete line of portable oxygen systems for general aviation pilots and passengers, as well as an extensive line of windsocks and frames.
Flags International started in Edwardsburg, but has been located since 1975 in a castle in Osceola, Ind., according to David Aker, vice president and general manager.
“We make flags. We do a lot of custom work. We do flagpole service and maintenance, vinyl banners, all types of promotional products, screen-printed T-shirts and apparel,” Aker said. “We do a lot of work for the schools.”
“It’s gotten bigger every year,” Aker said, “which tells me it’s been well-responded to, and I understand that there are a lot who haven’t been here before.
“People don’t realize how many business people in Elkhart, South Bend, Mishawaka and Niles live in Edwardsburg,” Aker said.