By Adam Ganucheau/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – More than 200 veterans and family members attended a job fair at Itawamba Community College’s Belden campus Thursday, and more than a third of them were offered jobs on the spot.
The job fair at ICC-Belden was one stop on the Governor’s Job Fair Network, but also was one of the few advertised for veterans and their families only.
The event, which lasted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., produced 74 job offers, and fair organizers say that an estimated 174 job offers will occur within a year.
“Statistics show that unemployment rates for veterans are higher than for everyone else,” said Adam Todd, director for the Governor’s Job Fair Network. “This job fair is geared toward hiring former military personnel and their families, and these employer vendors are all very ready and very willing to hire them. I am very pleased with the turnout and the job offers today.”
The job fair was sponsored by Mississippi Department of Employment Security, WIN Job Center, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and the Tupelo-based Community Development Foundation. Thirty-eight vendors participated in the job fair, including many from the Tupelo area like Toyota Motor Corp., North Mississippi Medical Center and the Tupelo Police Department.
“We came out today because we are very interested in helping veterans out,” said Tupelo Police Sgt. Katarsha White. “We love to start locally, and we would be more than excited to hire qualified veterans that are looking to become an officer of the law.”
Most vendors had applications at their booths. Also on site were private interview rooms in the ICC building and MDES’s mobile computer lab in the parking lot – additional amenities to allow veterans and their families to take the necessary steps to find jobs.
“Job fairs like this are much better than sitting behind a computer,” said U.S. Navy veteran Travers Weil of Gulfport. “It’s tough to find a job out there. This is the second veterans’ job fair I’ve been to in two years.”
Todd said one of the best aspects about the job fair was showcasing the available jobs to veterans who might not even know about them in the first place.
“I was blown away by everything that is available,” said U.S. Army veteran Kevin Petty of Tupelo. “I literally didn’t realize there were that many opportunities around here. I have to call my wife and tell her to come out. This was a really good thing today.”