10/26/18 – Hiring event sees more attendees

Posted on: October 29th, 2018 by admin


October 26, 2018


By Virginia Annable



Caldwell County’s biannual job fair was flooded with people Thursday, matching crowds from years past when unemployment numbers were much higher than they are now.


After the announcement that Heritage Home Group would close its Lenoir Casegoods factory on Nov. 2 after no buyer appeared for the plant, employees were left to hunt for a new job, and employees of the company’s upholstery plant are uncertain whether their plant’s new owner, Samson Furniture, will keep them. Many, like Sandra Millsaps, who has worked at the Lenoir Casegoods plant for 39 years, headed to Caldwell is Hiring — a job fair that brought 50 employers and 2,300 job openings to the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center Thursday.


The timing couldn’t have been better, Millsaps said, standing among a crowd of other HHG employees who were given an hour to meet with employers before the event opened to the public.


“I was glad to hear they were giving us this opportunity to come early,” she said.


Millsaps headed for companies including Williams-Sonoma, Bernhardt Furniture and Century Furniture, all of which had winding lines of people waiting to learn about open positions and apply for jobs.


While Heritage Home Group’s situation is sad, with so many losing their jobs, the event worked exactly as it’s meant to, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission. It was originally started eight years ago when unemployment was high. This year, it’s again bringing jobs to people who need them.


“The good part of this is, if there’s a place to look for a job, this is it,” Murray said.


While many, like Millsaps, don’t want to retrain for a new job, Murray said many employers are willing to train people for jobs because there are so few job candidates out there. Getting a new job after working in one place for decades, as some HHG employees have, is daunting, but Murray encouraged them.


“This is the first day of the rest of their life,” she said.


HHG employees weren’t the only ones at Caldwell is Hiring. Hundreds of others looking for better opportunity showed up to talk to local employers.


Russell Annas, a young recent graduate, searched for a finance or accounting job. He heard about the job fair and headed to the civic center. Though slightly nervous, he approached tables to see if he could find a new position.


“I already have a job, but I’m looking for something better,” he said. “Looking to elevate my socioeconomic status.”


The hiring event offers opportunities across the board, Murray said. Even if a company doesn’t specialize in a field, they may have financial, human resources or administrative jobs people may be interested in. The fair is a place for people to find a better opportunity, she said.


“We have better jobs available now, better-paying jobs now and more diverse jobs,” Murray said.


Murray estimated that around 650-700 people come to the fair. From HHG, about 350 people came, 145 people pre-registered and at least 200 other people came unregistered.

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