Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Mark Burton, the human resources manager for the Atlanta-based Delanore, Kemper and Associates, LLC, a debt collection agency, said it normally would have taken him "weeks" to find, interview and hire 35 people to work for his company, but he did it in just hours on Friday.
The agency was one of approximately 130 companies that participated in U.S. Congressman David Scott's (D-Ga.) 8th annual, 13th Congressional District Job Fair, at the Georgia International Convention Center, in College Park.
Burton explained that his company just received a $30 million contract from another company, which will require additional workers, and owners of his agency wanted him to see how many people he could find at the job fair.
In four hours, he said, he received resumes from, interviewed, and hired, 35 people. They will start work next week, he said.
"This saved me a whole lot of time," Burton added. "It would have taken two months to find this many people."
This year's job fair was "definitely the biggest" turnout in the event's history, with more than 15,000 job seekers attending, according to Scott spokesman Michael Andel. "That's about five times more people than we had last year," he said.
The signs that a huge turnout was at hand were, perhaps, evident throughout the day. Andel said people began lining up at 6:15 a.m., and the line of people waiting to get into the job fair "wrapped around the building" by the time the doors opened at 10 a.m.
Just after noon, there was a line of cars that stretched from the convention center, down Camp Creek Parkway, to that street's intersection with Interstate 285.
As a result of the high traffic volume, it took approximately an hour to drive the three-mile stretch of Camp Creek Parkway that runs from the interstate, to the convention center. The slow-moving line of cars finally broke up at the convention center.
"This has really been off the charts," Scott said. "It is really evidence of two things. No. 1, is the extra need for jobs, and No. 2, is the willingness of these companies to help these people find a job -- and that's how you solve the job crisis."
Scott said there is a psychological factor involved in getting one company to hire people, and that can help stimulate the economy. "One job begets another job," he said. "It's the psychological push that people are hiring that gets other companies to hire people as well."
The list of job fair participants included big companies, such as AirTran Airways, AT&T, Comcast Cable, FedEx Ground, IBM, Lockheed Martin, and Suntrust Bank; and government bodies and agencies, such as Clayton County government, the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, MARTA, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Columbus Police Department, and the Gwinnett County Police Department.
College Park resident, Niquevious Smith, said he has been unemployed for two years, and was at the job fair to find "any type of income." He said he has done some landscaping in the past, but he believes he is capable of getting jobs in other fields as well. "I'm good at customer service and maintenance," he said.
He said he filled out some applications, and was hopeful that he had some chances of getting a job.
Decatur resident, Rose Murphy Potts, said she also believed she came away from the job fair with "a few" job prospects, and even got some tips from employment recruiters on how she can make herself standout from other people looking for work.
She said she has been looking for full-time employment since she moved to Georgia in 2003, and has worked park-time jobs and earned a bachelor's degree in human resources from American InterContinental University, in Dunwoody, to help bolster her chances of meeting her goal.
Potts was enthusiastic as she said she was impressed with her experience at the job fair, and she expressed optimism that it will result in the full-time employment she has been seeking for years.
"This was a great job fair, because they had the most in terms of the [number of] on-the-spot employers," she said.