50 businesses to be at Cape job fair Tuesday

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Joanne wants a job. Well, at least a better-paying job.

After she was laid off by Rubbermaid last year after working there for five years, she ended up taking a job that only paid about half the amount that she made at the Jackson plant.

"It's hard to go from 12 bucks an hour to half that. That's not ideal," said Joanne. "I need something that pays better."

So Joanne, who asked that her real name not be used so her current boss wouldn't know she was looking, will be attending the Southeast Missourian-sponsored Career Fair on Tuesday in hopes of finding something better. She wants to check out several of the 50 hiring businesses that will be handing out applications.

That's the normal routine of a career fair, helping the unemployed find work and some workers hunt out higher-paying jobs. But this is the biggest job fair that the Southeast Missourian has sponsored, said coordinator Robin Strop, who also is classified advertising manager.

Fifty businesses have signed up to meet with potential employees, the most in the five years it has been held. Some turn out every year -- like BioKyowa, Procter & Gamble, hospitals and McDonald's. New faces include the under-construction Signature Packaging & Paper, National Asset Recovery Service, or NARS, and New Wave Communications.

"There are entry-level positions to management," Strop said. "There's full and part time. A lot of businesses are looking for workers now. They're not just going to be out here to meet people they may need down the road."

And even though the job fair is being held at the Show Me Center, Strop said this isn't just for college graduates.

"This job fair is for anybody that is looking for a job," she said. "Or even if they just want to stop by and see what is out there."

This year's job fair has a twist that prompted one economic developer to joke that it may be "the biggest job fair in the history of the world."

Mitch Robinson, executive director of the Cape Area Magnet, said it is unusual in that NARS executives are coming to the job fair to see if the area could support a call center that would need 350 to 400 employees.

"This one is obviously very important," he said. "The turnover rate in their industry is very high. They've got to firmly believe we have enough workers. They want to find some good people right off the bat."

Several businesses said they sign up for the job fair because it's a good way to find dedicated workers to fill out employee rosters.

Joe Kelpe, a call center supervisor for Motorcycle Stuff on Nash Road, said he needs about five motivated people to work the phones and deal with customer service. The entry-level positions pay about $8 an hour, but Kelpe said the staffers will have the opportunity to move into sales.

"We're looking for people that are sales-driven, goal-oriented and maybe has an enthusiasm for motorcycles," he said. "We want people who are willing to work."

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

Want to go?

What: Career Fair

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Show Me Center

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