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Chamber president says better economy evident at annual job fair
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Kristy Hoff, a staffing consultant with Express Employment Professionals, speaks with Samantha Cocchiarella at the Gainesville Civic Center Wednesday during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce job fair. Cocchiarella, who is certified to teach, said she attended the job fair because she was in desperate need of a job but couldn't find any teaching jobs available in her field. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Job seekers spilled into the stairwells Wednesday at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual job fair, where 850 had been through the door before 12:30 p.m.

Tables filled with applications lined the walls, and 65 organizations and businesses spoke with job seekers.

The event at the Gainesville Civic Center “sold out earlier” for businesses and organizations, chamber President Kit Dunlap said.

“The economy obviously has picked up the last three or four years,” Dunlap said. “People are hiring.”

She said a “big mass” of people were lined up when the event opened.

“It’s been pretty steady since,” she added.

Job seekers ranged from teens looking for “a job, any job,” to professionals talking to manufacturing firms and health care companies.

Tim Evans, chamber vice president for economic development, said participants “look like they came ready for an interview, pretty professional looking.”

Bill Spenard, who has 31 years experience in manufacturing and engineering, said, “I’ve got a lot of leads” and pronounced the event “a very good job fair.” He is from Cumming and heard about the job fair through a church job networking group.

Abbey Bonner, 18, who was there with her son, and with Matthew Daniel, 22, said she “needs a job.” Both Bonner and Daniel said they were looking for work of most any kind.

Several firms were looking to hire for specific positions. Wm. Wrigley Jr., a gum manufacturer in Flowery Branch, has more than 100 jobs available, Juliana Domingues, in the human resources department, said. The company’s representatives had a steady line of potential applicants.

Domingues said the company had a “quick interview” with people who met “minimum qualifications” and set up the formal process for later.

Alan Schuetze, with Carroll Daniel Construction Co., said the firm has about 20 jobs to fill — foremen, carpenters, laborers and job site superintendents.

He said the firm “is having a hard time finding people,” but the interest at the job fair was “steady” all morning.

Jess Odell, recruiter for Sperion Staffing Services, agreed the crowd was “steady” and said his firm had been through about 200 business cards by a short time after noon.

Tashia Shirley, 28, was talking with Sperion. She said she was looking for a job on the first shift so she can attend technical college at night to become an X-ray technician. She said she knows “the ins and outs of that field” because both her parents work at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

The medical center was one of the businesses that had a steady line waiting to talk with its representatives.

Chezley Whelchel attended the job fair because he heard about it from family members. He was filling out applications on the stairs. He said he had a couple of interviews, and he intended “to keep going.”

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