However, the real promising feature of the job fair was the 70-plus local employers seeking to fill current openings.
Included in the mix were a few locally familiar names — M & M Mars Tennessee, Volkswagen and a Bradley County newcomer, Wacker Polysilicon North America.
The new WACKER plant, whose groundbreaking is scheduled for April 8 in north Bradley County near Charleston, has shared the Cleveland and regional news media spotlight over the past few months with other well-recognized names like Whirlpool, Amazon.com, Olin and AbitibiBowater.
“We have a really great turnout for vendors this year. It is higher than last year, and it just might be one of the strongest vendor turnouts we have ever had,” said Sheila Albritton, director of Career Services and Counseling at the college.
According to Albritton, attendance at the fair can range anywhere from 500 to 1,200 people seeking employment opportunities from the vendors. These job seekers are both students at the college and members of the community at large.
“We feel like it’s important for the college to serve the whole community,” explained Albritton. “This is one of the largest career fairs in town, and it only seemed natural to open it to the public.”
The event ran from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday on the college campus, and provided those seeking jobs a vast diversity of industries and businesses to choose from.
Vendors attending the event ranged from Avon to the YMCA, but booths representing the area’s major industries saw, far and away, the most traffic. Representatives from both Volkswagen and M&M Mars said the turnout had been very strong.
“This is our third fair here at Chattanooga State, and we are really pleased with both the turnout and the diversity of those interested,” said Rosie Rusel, human resource recruiter for Volkswagen.
Anthony Johnson, talent acquisition manager with Mars, explained these events are a great opportunity for companies to establish relationships with the local colleges, other businesses and potential employees.
Most vendors at the fair were accepting applications and resumes, but many booths were encouraging interested parties to view job listings and apply via that company’s website.
The most interest was generated by Wacker Polysilicon North America’s booth. A constant line of interested parties was at the WACKER booth, with some waiting in line for significant amounts of time for a chance to speak with the company representative.
Some of the training for the upcoming Wacker Polysilicon facility will take place on Chattanooga State’s campus and students, non-students and even other businesses were hopeful about the forthcoming opportunities provided by the company.
“You are seeing this boom in the technology, industry and engineering jobs and that’s being shown by these booths. What’s nice is that the region seems to be really pulling together to support each other and bring these big companies into the area, and the other businesses are supporting each other for the good of the region,” explained Albritton.
Chattanooga State was also taking time to talk to non-students about the importance of going back to school and receiving training for new and expanding job fields.
Many in attendance expressed their surprise at the number of businesses with openings, and most expressed their hope that this might mean a be a sign that local hiring is now picking up.