300 attend jobs fair, some optimistic
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:00 AM
More than 300 hundred attended a jobs fair in Philadelphia last Thursday, some feeling optimistic about possible employment, while others left disappointed.
Although Neshoba County's unemployment rate for August dipped to 6.3 percent, the workforce dropped nearly 3%, or 367, from 13,270 to 12,903. That's a nearly 4% drop since a 2011 figure of 13,440.
Kaye Rowell, of the Community Development Partnership who helped sponsor the jobs fair, said that 300 people signed in during the five hours it was open.
"We're not sure how many people were hired but the representatives did show a lot of interest in a number of people," she said.
Interest among attendees was split among the various booths, she added.
"At least 150 people took the welding and CNC [computer numerical control] test for Allied-Locke," Rowell said.
The jobs fair was made possible through a collaborative effort and joint partnership between Allied-Locke Industries, Taylor Machine Works, Richardson Molding, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security's WIN Job Centers, CDP and the East Central Community College Workforce Development.
Allied-Locke, the county's newest industry, will manufacture agricultural chains at its facility in the Union Industrial Park.
Chamber of Commerce Director Tim Moore said a line of at least 50 people had already gathered an hour before the fair started.
"Responses from the crowd have been good," he said. "Everybody has been receiving it pretty good."
At the WIN Job Center booth, employees Nellie Satcher and Rosa Batiste said people were mainly looking for permanent jobs as opposed to seasonal ones.
"Right now there are so many people out of work that are just trying to find jobs," Satcher said.
"Most of the ones here today are looking for construction-type work."
Batiste added that the companies were looking for skilled labor for more technical positions.
Within the first 15 minutes of the fair, the WIN employees saw more than 20 people.
Stephen Hamilton, who was looking over the Allied Locke booth, said he was impressed but wished they had offered a larger variety of jobs, including taking applicants with a little less than two years experience.
"I came here today looking for something in my field like fork lift driving and a little welding experience," he said. "I've worked in production for years and years."
Heather Shelton, an office manager and engineering technician with Allied-Locke, said the fair was a new experience for the company.
"Our corporate office in Illinois does jobs fairs twice a year but this is our first time with it here," she said.
Richard Konchalsky of Alaska said this fair was "relatively small" compared to other jobs fairs he had attended.
Konchalsky was new to the area, being here only a month after moving from Anchorage, Alaska.
Other companies at the fair included Taylor Machine Works, who needed trained persons in the areas of general assembly, electrician, welder, and fork lift assembly; and Richardson Molding, who was searching for a quality engineer with at least five years' experience in manufacturing, a maintenance mechanic with electrical knowledge, and a shipping clerk with fork lift and scanner experience.
Based in Dixon, Ill., Allied-Locke purchased the former Brook Manufacturing facility in Neshoba County earlier this year.
The company is expected to have an annual economic impact here of about $1.3 million, according to a report from the state Development Authority.
Community Development Partnership President David Vowell told supervisors that since the company purchased the Brook building, it had picked up a large grain contract to supply chain.
The company has also sold one of its facilities in another state and plans to move that operation here, he said.
Vowell said one reason Allied chose the former Brook building was because it has space for future growth. It is in the Union Industrial Park.