Job fair draws many eager for work

Alcorn StockBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – While Mississippi’s unemployment rate has dropped to 8.5 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics attributes this lowest rate since February 2009 to people giving up on finding a job.

But the 675 job-seekers attending Tuesday’s WIN Job Fair at the Crossroads Arena in Corinth aren’t among them. They were eager to see if they might walk away with the offer of a job.

After two years working on carpentry projects with his brother, Russell Sorrell of Rienzi said he would be applying to as many employers as he thought could use his skills.

Sorrell had been laid off from Quad/ Graphics (formerly World Color) in 2010 when the plant closed its Corinth operation.

“I see a lot of companies here, so maybe I’ll find something,” Sorrell said.

The group of employers who came to screen applicants for immediate and future job openings included Roll Form Group, Magnolia Regional Health Center, Acco Brands, Ashley Furniture, Coca-Cola and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi. Forty-four companies registered.

Stormy Strickland of Rienzi has been laid off two months from Acco Brands, and hopes she’ll be back to work soon.

“I applied for a job the day after I turned 16, and I worked for McDonald’s seven years, the last two as a manager,” Strickland said. “After I got married and we had a baby, we had some rough times and I needed to get a better-paying job, so I left McDonald’s. My husband’s back at work again too and I’m hoping to find something soon.”

The job fair is Nisa Moody of Rienzi’s first job search since she finished her degree at Mississippi University for Women in May. She spent some months traveling abroad, but is now ready to pursue opportunities in graphic design.

“The people here today weren’t the ones who are in my field, so everybody said to go online to apply,” Moody said.

Alan Parker left his previous job in human resources, purchasing and safety manager about seven months ago and has been doing pastoral work.

“Last week was the first time I really pursued a new position, and I saw some businesses today that look promising,” Parker said.

The search was productive for at least 335 applicants of more than 675 job-seekers who attended the job fair, said Amanda Johnson, WIA employment coordinator at the WIN Job Center.

The number of job applicants who registered Tuesday was lower than in the past few years, when attendance ranged upwards of 800 job-seekers.

Employers attending the Tuesday job fair, however, estimated they will hire about 300 more individuals during the next 12 months, said Adam Todd, director of the Governor’s Job Fair Network.

“It was a sharp-looking bunch who came through today,” Todd said. “It was kind of a steady pace, and businesses had a little more time to talk in-depth with more individuals. It all came together to make a really good event.”

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com