Dozens of job seekers filed into the Hollenbeck-Bayley Conference Center in downtown Springfield Tuesday afternoon looking for better opportunities at the eighth annual Clark County Career Fair.
About 60 area employers were on hand representing industries that included manufacturing, education, health care and distribution. Tuesday’s job fair opened to the general public at 2 p.m., but before then a line formed outside the doors that led into the event.
Organizers were expecting a steady stream of job seekers throughout the four-hour event, and said more than 160 people pre-registered to meet with local employers. Some local companies were looking to fill several openings, while others were interested in building a list of potential workers as jobs open in the future.
OhioMeansJobs-Clark County organized the event with assistance from the chamber.
The O.S. Kelly Company had about a half-dozen open positions and had already seen several good candidates early on, said Diane O’Neill, office manager for the downtown Springfield business. The company manufactures piano plates for Steinway, and has a history in Springfield stretching back for decades.
The company has posted some openings online, but had more success hanging a sign seeking workers outside their office, O’Neill said. She said finding qualified workers has been a challenge at times, but noted the company offers competitive benefits including health and dental insurance after about 45 days on the job.
She said some of the company’s openings might be a good fit for workers with past automotive experience, but some high school students who have learned basic manufacturing skills can also be a good fit depending on the job.
“They might fit right in,” O’Neill said. “You just have to find the right person.”
Ginger Brooks, a human resources manager at Seepex, said the company hosted a booth at the fair even though there are no openings right now. The company manufactures progressive cavity pumps used in a variety of industries to pump everything from wastewater sludge to food products. Even though there are no current jobs available, she said the company was trying to build a backlog of candidates to be ready for possible future growth.
“The economy is turning around,” Brooks said. “We’re always in need of good people.”
Unemployment rates in Clark and Champaign counties each hit their lowest level in 17 years in March, according to a state report released last month.
For the first time this year, area high school students had the first shot at meeting with local employers. Cole Vasileff, a senior at Shawnee High School, said he was looking for a summer job that might help him prepare for a career in engineering in the long run. Regardless, he said it was his first job fair and it was a chance to update his resume and learn more about local companies.
“The entire class was coming out and I thought it would be a good experience,” Vasileff said.
The Springfield News-Sun will continue to provide unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign Counties. For this story, the paper spoke to local employers and area residents about the region’s job market.
By the numbers:
60 — Estimated employers present
160 — Estimated job seekers who pre-registered
4 percent — Clark County unemployment rate in March
3.3 percent — Champaign County unemployment rate in March