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Annual jobs fair nets record attendance

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

For four years in a row, the 13th Congressional District Jobs Fair, hosted by Congressman David Scott (D-GA), has connected thousands of Georgians with employers seeking to hire them.

On Friday, the fourth annual fair saw its highest attendance numbers ever.

Lines of anxious job seekers from all walks of life wrapped around the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.

With resumes in hand, close to 9,000 job seekers were welcomed by 150 different employers throughout the day, according to event organizers.

Throughout the fair, Scott interacted with applicants and made announcements of specific businesses seeking to hire immediately. He said the day's record attendance was a telling sign of the current state of the economy.

"This is a tough economy and people are hanging on by their fingernails," said Scott. "We see the outpouring of need from the people who need jobs.

"This is the worst economic crisis we have had since the [Great] Depression," Scott continued. "If we can bail out Wall Street ... we can use that same energy to direct people towards jobs."

Isaac Dodoo, deputy district director for Scott's office, said event organizers did more this year to help job seekers present themselves to employers in the best way possible. For the first time, the Georgia Department of Labor was on site in large numbers to help those without resumes to compose them and to help job seekers with prior criminal offenses find employment.

"We want to help out everybody ... we don't want to rule out anybody," said Dodoo. He said, this year, Scott's office aimed to make the event a "one stop shop" for job seekers.

Josh Lomanto of Decatur, recently worked for Whole Foods Market until losing his job a week earlier. He said the Jobs Fair came at the most opportune time for him.

My previous job "really wasn't what I wanted to do forever," said Lomanto. "I'm looking for something I can make a career out of." In 30 minutes of being at the fair, Lomanto said he was able to do interviews with four different businesses.

"It's good for people to see what's actually out here because there are a lot of business out there that people may not be aware of," Lomanto continued. "This may be the job they are looking for."

Bobby Scales, district development manager for Colonial Life -- a South Carolina-based life insurance company currently expanding into metro Atlanta -- said the turnout of the Jobs Fair was "fantastic.

"I totally didn't expect this kind of turnout," said Scales. "We've talked to a number of people today and many of them are qualified to do what we want them to do. During this job fair, you run into the kind of people you are looking for."