Job Fair at ATCC a success in midst of rising unemploymentThe ninth annual Greater Alexandria Area Job Resource Fair held on Wednesday at Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) seemed perfectly timed, given the recent uptick in the national unemployment rate.
By: Crystal Dey, Alexandria Echo Press
The ninth annual Greater Alexandria Area Job Resource Fair held on Wednesday at Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) seemed perfectly timed, given the recent uptick in the national unemployment rate.
The U.S. saw an overall increase from 7.8 percent in December to 7.9 for January 2013. Minnesota bounced between 5.6 and 5.9 percent throughout 2012, ending with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate in December.
“More than 400 people attended [the job fair] by noon,” said Katie Jerde of the Lakes Area Business and Employers Council Job Fair Committee.
In 2012, more than 600 people attended the event. When the attendee total came in at 2 p.m. Wednesday, 500 people had already walked through the door.
“That’s a good turnout,” said Kris Willert with the Lakes Area Business and Employers Council Job Fair Committee. “This year was one hour shorter than last year.”
Job seekers of various ages, skills and experience levels mingled with a range of employers in the west central Minnesota region. Willert said many of the attendees were students of ATCC. Manufacturing, healthcare, media, hospitality and education were among the variety of businesses scattered throughout the law enforcement gymnasium.
“Healthcare is really growing in our area,” Willert said. “A majority of attendees were probably interested in manufacturing.”
Willert attributes the manufacturing attraction to the area, which is known to have a robust manufacturing base. A lot of students at ATCC are training for manufacturing occupations.
“We have plans to expand next year,” Jerde said. Forty-six exhibitors lined the walls in the gym; nine were on a waiting list because there wasn’t enough room.
Willert said exhibitors were pleased with the quality of candidates and a good number of the businesses at the event are currently hiring.
This year attracted businesses from out of the area and some locals that hadn’t participated in years past. Jerde said newcomer Potlatch Corporation joined from Bemidji. Jennie-O Turkey Store has locations throughout the state, but none in Douglas County. Zero Variance and Premier Designs Jewelry were also among the new exhibitors Jerde mentioned.
Many people get discouraged at job fairs because they think they are going to go home with a job.
“It’s really about making connections,” Willert said. “That face-to-face interaction is so important.”
Willert advises people that attended the job resource fair to follow up with employers they met. She added that the Greater Alexandria Area Job Resource Fair website will remain active so if someone was not able to attend the event they can still check on employment opportunities.
“Even if they aren’t hiring, a lot of companies are so great about coming out to show support from a community standpoint,” Jerde said.
The Lakes Area Business and Employers Council sponsored the Greater Alexandria Area Job Resource Fair. Echo Press, KIKV-FM/Cool 94.3 Radio and KXRA-KX92-Z99 Radio also supported the event.
KXRA program director and morning show host Michael Right said the station comes out each year to support the community and to scout for sales talent that can be called upon down the road.