Posted on October 25, 2023
By Caitlan Butler
Managing Editor/El Dorado News-Times
The El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce’s first countywide job fair was held Tuesday, and it was a great success, economic development project manager Kaitlyn Rigdon said.
“I think it went so well,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “I was so excited at the turnout, not just from employers but also people looking to be employed.”
Rigdon said about 30 local businesses, ranging from small, momand-pop companies originated in El Dorado to global corporations with operations in Union County, were represented at the job fair, along with several organizations that provide resources to job-seekers.
“We had all types of industries represented… It was literally all types of businesses, and one of the my favorite things was seeing – we weren’t sure what it was going to look like, we didn’t want it to feel like a competition between businesses, and it wasn’t. It was a cohesive, community event and all the businesses were talking to each other and having a great time,” she said.
Mark Day, public relations and land manager at LANXESS, manned his company’s booth, and said about 100 people submitted applications for positions at the plant.
“I thought it went really well. I was very excited to be a part of it,” Day said.
Rigdon said in all, more than 200 local residents attended the job fair looking for employment. About half already have jobs, she said, and Day noted that many of the applicants he spoke to were transitioning in their careers.
“I was surprised at how many … people not starting out their careers, people who were in transition, came,” Day said.
Rigdon said at least two of the job-seekers who attended the event Tuesday walked out with job offers, and more than that had follow-up interviews scheduled.
“Employers were really pleased with the quality of people that showed up and how eager they were to get a job,” she said.
Representatives from South Arkansas College’s Career Accelerator, Goodwill and the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services were on hand to provide assistance to job-seekers as well.
“SouthArk … was there helping people figure out what path they wanted to do, because a lot of times, the plant opportunities, you have to have some kind of technical training. The Career Accelerator offers that,” Rigdon said. “Goodwill, they do a lot for unemployed people looking for jobs, like helping with resumes, so they were able to schedule some sessions and let people know what resources they do offer so they can follow up at their office.”
The Division of Workforce Services came with the agency’s mobile unit, Rigdon said.
“It’s this huge bus where you can go in and actually fill out resumes. They’ll help you build your resume and also do online applications,” she said. “They were really pleased with the amount of people that came… They said they’ve done a lot of events in the past, and this one was really good. They had a lot of people come into their bus and get help.”
Rigdon said feedback from those who went to the job fair in search of employment opportunities was also positive.
“They were really pleased with the employers that were there with booths and opportunities they had provided, and also they were really pleased with the resources we had available for them,” she said.
With the inaugural event behind them, Rigdon said she and others at the Chamber are looking forward to making the countywide job fair an annual event. “If anything, going forward, we want to do more. We just weren’t sure of how it was going to look exactly, but the feedback we’ve gotten is all positive, so we just want to grow it and make it bigger next time,” she said.