Thousands hired, thousands turned away at job fair

Monday, October 22, 2001

As many as 10,000 people flocked to a New York City-sponsored job fair last week.

Thousands were turned away after standing for hours in the cold at the Twin Towers Job Expo, held in Madison Square Garden. There was room for only about 2,000 people inside at a time, and Deputy Mayor Anthony Coles said the city would hold a second job fair this Thursday.

Although the city asked that employees who lost jobs as a direct result of the terrorist attack be given priority, the job fair was open to everyone.

Those who made it inside the crowded along rows of tables where 200 companies were taking applications, including Citibank, J.P. Morgan Chase, IBM, Macy's, Gap, Foot Locker, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Fire Department of New York and New York Police Department.

The FDNY and NYPD stands were popular ones at the fair.

A total of 4,300 hires were made. The jobs offered ranged in pay and skill level, from high-paying, executive-level positions to entry-level jobs in the service sector. Attending the job fair were middle-aged people in business suits mixed with young people in jeans.

The city estimates that up to 100,000 jobs were lost as a result of the World Trade Center attack.

There has been a lot of news about layoffs recently, including some in Southeast Missouri.

At Cape Girardeau, the Dana Corp. manufacturing plant is one of five being evaluated for possible closure. Dana announced late last week that it would cut 11,000 jobs and close some facilities nationally, including at least one of its five manufacturing facilities in the Midwest.

The evaluation does not mean that the $23 million plant here will close, only that it COULD close.

That would eliminate 377 jobs.

Norando Inc., one of the top 5 manufacturers in Southeast Missouri, is cutting its workforce by 223 workers worldwide, including at least 20 jobs at the New Madrid facility, which manufactures aluminum.

Noranda president and chief operation officer Derek Pannell made the announcement from Noranda's Toronto headquarters, saying it had to align the organization within its economic means.

The New Madrid Noranda facility employs 1,150 people from more than 40 communities in a five-state area, including Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky.

Noranda produces 500 million pounds of aluminum products each year, and ships its products to customers throughout the United States and Mexico.

Bright spots on job scene

Meanwhile there some bright spots on the immediate employment scene.

The Cape Shoe Co. of Cape Girardeau is looking at increasing its work force, and RightChoice Managed Care Inc., which announced its sale to WellPoint Health Networks last week, said Friday no employment changes were anticipated.

RightChoice has offices in Cape Girardeau and employs about 250 workers from the area.

"We're not looking at any changes," said Kevin Aandahl, vice president, corporate and public affairs for Right Choice.

Cape Shoe Co., 1600 S. West End Blvd., is expanding its workforce due to increased sales, said Eli Fishman.

Fishman, owner and manager of he plant, reports that higher sales are the result of two recent development.

The first is a renewed interest in American-made products said Fishman.

"Cape Shoe's product line has always featured 100 percent made in USA men's work boots and casual shoes," he said. "More and more people area trying our shoe products, which has generated many new customers.

Another development is a subcontract to produce 30,000 pairs of sewn uppers for military boots.

"We need more stitchers to help fill this order," said Fishman.

The military has not substantially increased boot orders, but is requiring faster delivery on existing contracts.

Economic help

Small businesses across the country can apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

Prompted by the widespread economic impact of the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, the U.S. Small Business Administration has widened access to EIDL loans.

This action represents a major, unprecedented change in the disaster loan program. Currently, only businesses located in the communities declared disaster areas by the president (New York City and adjacent counties in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts; Arlington County in Virginia and adjacent counties in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia) are eligible to apply for disaster loan assistance from the SBA.

But on Oct. 22 the SBA will publish regulations to authorize EIDL assistance across the nation to eligible small businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury as a direct result of these attacks or a federal action taken directly after the attacks.

The application deadline is Jan. 21.

Missouri and Arkansas businesses can call the Fort Worth, Texas, office, at 1 (800) 366-6303. Business from Illinois and Kentucky must call the Atlanta office at 1 (800) 359-2227.

In the aftermath of last month's terrorists attacks, the SBA has made more than 460 disaster loans for $49.9 million in the area surrounding the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

B. Ray Owen is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian.

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