Job Fair

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2008

Job fair attendees want fresh start, better opportunities

By Billy Davis

The U.S. Marines recruiter was running late, and the U.S. Navy recruiter had broken down between Batesville and Oxford, but 56 other employers were waiting to greet job applicants Thursday morning at the Northwest Miss. Area Job Fair.

The job fair began at 9 a.m. at the Batesville Civic Center.

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On the civic center floor, applicants formed the longest line at the GE Aviation booth. Employment is expected to reach more than 250 at the mega-sized factory, but the plant is set to begin production of a composite fan blade platform this summer with a pool of only 20 hirings.

“There are 20 openings and we received 1,005 applications,” plant team leader Kristie Sturgeon told a reporter between interviews. More hirings will come in 2009 and 2010, she said.

Among the job fair’s best-dressed job fair applicants was Chris Carvan of Enid, who arrived in a blue sport coat that complemented his red tie and blue shirt.

After working in insurance and marketing, Carvan said he moved into trucking to fulfill a longtime dream. He has since grown weary of the hassles that come with self-employment – not to mention the rising cost of diesel.

“The economy has become more and more unstable,” he said.

Carvan said his planned booth stops included GE Aviation and Windsor Quality Food Co., the company that now occupies the failed beef plant in Oakland.

Elsewhere on the floor, Karl Cox of Pope was looking for a stable job when his seasonal farm job ends in coming weeks.

Cox said he, too, was planning to stop at the Windsor booth.

Not far away, Sarritta Cauthen of Batesville said she was seeking “anything” after she was laid off May 5 from an industrial job in Southaven.

When the doors opened for the job fair, the event began with a pep talk by Joe Buckner, director of the Governor’s Job Fair Network.

“There are employers waiting to talk to you, and it’s up to you to market your job skills,” Buckner told a crowd that had assembled just inside the building.

Nyanthia Townsend followed Buckner with an a cappella singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

By 10 a.m., 444 applicants had signed up to talk to employers, a job fair spokesman said.