GALLIPOLIS —The Gallipolis Quality Inn was the setting for quite a crowd Wednesday when regional employers and hundreds of job seekers from the tri-county area and beyond came together for a regional job fair. The event was sponsored by the Gallia County Economic Development Office, the Gallia County Board of Commissioners and the Gallia County Workforce Opportunity Center.
“We were taking about these [employment] challenges one day, and we said, ‘Why don’t we have a job fair? We have unemployed workers, we have employers who need employees, let’s put this event on and bring them together.’ That’s kind of how it came about,” said Gallia County Economic Development Director Melissa Clark.
According to Clark, dozens of employers and at least 375 job seekers participated in the event that ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.
“I think a lot of people were shocked by the number of people here, but it didn’t really surprise me,” said Dana Glassburn, director of Gallia County Job and Family Services and the Gallia County Workforce Opportunity Center. “This area is in need of employment, and it was nice to see them come together in the same place. I feel really great about it.”
Those looking for employment, like Crown City resident Justin Higgins, were pleased with the opportunity, as well.
“It was very well put together and organized,” said Higgins. “I don’t think they could have done a better job.”
Higgins said that the employers on site that most interested him were GKN Sinter Metals of Gallipolis and Mark Porter Auto Sales in Pomeroy.
“I’ve been an independent contractor for a long time, and I’m just looking for better work,” said Higgins, who has worked as a mechanic, as well as in construction. “It’s rough. You go a month or so at a time without working and then it’s nonstop. You just never know. I’m looking for something more steady.”
Employers on site encompassed many diverse fields including health care, retail and even Tupperware sales. Clark was providing information at the event about the National Emergency Grant (NEG) program, which provides short-term, well-paying employment to unemployed or underemployed residents of Gallia County. Participants can work 1,040 hours or approximately six months under the criteria outlined in the grant that funds the program. Clark’s office is administering the program.
“We are still hiring,” said Clark.
Clark said that she felt the event was well-attended and that bringing employers and employees together could certainly be a benefit to both, but the implications of such a huge crowd weren’t lost on her.
“When you sit back and look at it, I think it is kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s good that we have employers here that are hiring, that are looking for employees here in the area. I think it’s good that there has been such a good turnout, and maybe they have been able to see a wide variety of applicants, but in the same respect, to have this many people showing up means that they are unemployed, underemployed or looking for another job. I think it makes holding these events that much more important,” said Clark.