A steady stream of people continuously moved through the glass atrium at the East Mississippi Community College Communiversity on Tuesday morning as 40 area employers looked to hire new employees.
The job fair was part of the Governor’s Job Fair Network, which is through the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. Many businesses from the Golden Triangle attended the event looking to hire individuals who best fit their needs. Businesses with a large international presence, like Airbus and International Paper, were present, as well as area construction businesses like McCrary-West Construction Company.
Adam Todd, the director for the Governor’s Job Fair Network, said the number of businesses present reflects the state of the local economy.
“Anytime you have this many companies under one roof and you have this many individuals coming to seek work, essentially what this is, this is a barometer for your local economy,” Todd said. “This lets you know what industry is hot, which is not, which industry is actively recruiting and going places because things are busy at their corporate offices. This is an indicator of where this area is headed, so there’s a lot of good things happening for this area.”
The job fair began at 9 a.m., and before the doors opened, more than 40 job seekers were in line to enter the job fair. One West Point resident, Santonio Hogan, was on the hunt for a new job with flexible hours and guaranteed days off.
“I like seeing Airbus and the local police departments,” Hogan said. “… Currently I’m working somewhere where my off-days are not my off-days. I often get told on days I don’t have to come in that I have to come in, and I’m trying to get somewhere it’s more voluntary than mandatory, where I know it is truly helping a coworker who may have an emergency pop up.”
International Paper is one of the larger industries to set up shop in Lowndes County, with some of its operations being highly specialized. Patty Thrash, the mill learning leader for International Paper, said it is incredibly important to the company to hire people from the local area because they are the people who will stay.
“The people who live here will stay,” Thrash said. “People that care about this community and want to make this community better want to come work for a company that also cares about the community and wants to make us better. We have stable jobs and didn’t shut down during COVID because we’re an essential business. … We feel like we’re contributing to the community by having these jobs that are stable and that allow people to make a good living.”
Many area construction companies were present and looking for skilled laborers with a strong work ethic. Katie McCrary, director for people and culture for McCrary-West Construction Company, said the company is on the hunt to fill a handful of positions.
“Right now we have about four to six positions open,” McCrary said. “We are looking for skilled labor. We do industrial construction, concrete work, things like that. … We’re looking for people with what we call essential skills like showing up on time, working with a team, and willing to learn.”
For those who are on the hunt for a job but missed the job fair at the Communiversity, Todd said there is no need to worry. There are many other job fairs throughout the state with just as many businesses, and all of the information for the next fair is available online at jobfairs.ms.gov.