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We want (and need) you… Several businesses on hand for Job Fair at Chamber office

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
With the economy continuing to open up more and more, the one constant that still remains a problem for many businesses is the lack and need for employees to help to make opening doors possible.

Signs everywhere are asking for those who need a job to apply with many ready to hire on the spot if the applicant has or can learn the needed requirements of the position.

The Elizabethton-Carter County Chamber of Commerce continues to show that they are a conduit to the well-being of the community by sponsoring a Job Fair on Thursday at the Chamber Office to help job seekers meet companies that are in desperate need of employees.

“We had 18 different employers show up today,” said Chamber Executive Director Joy McCray. “They were all hiring for different positions in the region.

“The turnout has been better than we expected. A lot of people are looking for employment ahead of the employment benefits that are ending in July so we are happy to see people coming out.

“A lot of people are just coming out looking for a new career, a new change from the job that they have had previously and are looking for something new to do.”

Many of the employers present expressed the same thing and that was the difficulty they have had in getting enough people to fill positions they have open and are offering wages that were unheard of prior to the pandemic in the challenge to win out over other companies that are hiring.

One of the employers that were present was Goodwill who will be opening a new store in the Big Lots shopping complex later in the fall.

“We have sales associates and donation attendants that we are hiring for,” said Anita Williams – the Director of Compliance and Safety for Goodwill who was on hand for the event.

“We are looking for 14 people to hire initially. Basically, we are just looking for a good work ethic. As far as the skill and training, we can offer that, but basically, we are just looking for a person who is willing and wanting to work.”

Starting pay for associates will be $10 an hour and donation attendants will start at $12.

“A lot of our donation centers are trailers set up and they (donation attendants) are exposed to the heat and the cold,” explained Goodwill’s Brittany Vernon.

Another potential employer on-site for the job fair was actually a staffing company – Elite Staffing.

Jim Stout, Director of Sales and Business Development for Elite Staffing, said that as businesses continue to ramp up that it gets tougher and tougher to find employees to fill those slots.

Stout said his company has been notified that a couple of businesses they represent has already contacted them and said they will be restarting their operations full tilt soon which could push the need for people to work to 100 or better.

“It’s not easy – that’s for sure,” said Stout on how difficult it has been to find people to work. “We were very blessed when COVID hit that we didn’t shut our doors – all of the crew stayed in our office and kept recruiting.

“Business actually picked up more because we stayed open. We are blessed to have the recruiters that we do have. Companies found out that we were opened and started calling us and that helped propel us up the ladder some.”

Just like other employers looking to hire, Stout said that Elite is willing to do whatever it takes to find people who are looking and willing to go to work.

“Any rock that we can turn over whether it’s social media, job fairs, or advertisement, we are doing everything that we can to reach people and let them know that we have jobs available and we are hoping on July 3rd all of that stops,” Stout commented.

“When that money stops and quits, people will be looking to go back to work and that will help everybody.”

McCray said that the job fair was beneficial not only to find employees but for the businesses themselves to have the opportunity to network.

“It’s been great for our businesses to come out to network with each other and to find out what needs they may have and we have been able to connect a few businesses together that could solve a few problems themselves regardless of having employees,” McCray said.

“As far as employment goes, it’s hard on all of us because it’s hard to find good employees but it’s a testament to see what great careers are available here in Carter County.

“This is just one of the other values that the Chamber offers to the community. Serve your community, serve it to the best of our ability, and help our businesses get back to work and meet their needs.”

McCray said that several of the businesses requested to have another job fair in the fall.