Job fair is result of joint effort

Friday, February 8, 2019

By Kelby Newcomb

The Carroll County Job Fair will feature more than a dozen area businesses from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Berryville Community Center.

“There some others on the fence about joining. I think that’s a good representation,” said Steve Johnson, executive director of the Greater Berryville Area Chamber of Commerce. “What’s really exciting is the way the city has helped spearhead this.”

Johnson said the job fair came together through the collaborative effort of the city of Berryville, the Chamber and local businesses.

“The city has been instrumental in helping us make this happen,” he said. “The generous support of the city leading the way has been very helpful to us in reaching out to the different businesses. When they know the city is behind it and has committed to helping us host this on the 19th, they’re more willing to join in.”

Johnson continued, “We’ve got great support from [parks department director] Joe Scott at the community center who’s helping arrange this. It really works well when everyone works together.”

Mayor Tim McKinney said events like this are what successful growing communities, such as Fayetteville and Rogers, are doing all the time.

“I think as a community we’ve got to be more proactive,” he said, “and show that the Chamber and city and everybody are working together to grow our community and make it a better place to live, work and do business.”

McKinney continued, “This is the kind of thing that shows we’re an active community and a progressive community that wants to grow and provide opportunities for people.”

He said the city recently reorganized the parks department and hired an assistant parks director in order to free Scott up to work on community events, such as the Job Fair.

“He’s good at that. We hope this is the start of a partnership for the city, the Berryville Chamber and businesses,” McKinney said. “We’re working together more and getting focused in the right direction.”

Economic development director Chris Claybaker said the idea for the job fair got started when Harter House was first considering opening a location in Berryville.

“We showed them the property and everything we possibly could,” he said, “and one of their concerns was employees because they talk about how they’re more of a service. Not only do they provide the groceries, but it’s also the customer service they’re really proud of. So I promised them we would do a job fair.”

Claybaker continued, “In talking with Mike Armstrong at Tyson Foods, I learned they’ve had several job fairs. When it’s just them, I think he said last time they had about nine potential employees show up on a Saturday.”

He said Armstrong told him that having it on a Tuesday might work better.

“He said employment security people said Tuesday is the best day because that’s when they get most of their traffic, too,” Claybaker said. “So we started looking at that and maybe combining Tyson and Harter House for a job fair.”

He continued, “When I brought the idea to the Chamber board, Steve and Chamber president Ken Wingate jumped all over it with the idea that ‘Let’s do more.’ ”

In trying to get employers involved, Claybaker said the Chamber wanted to do this as a service for membership.

“I think that’s a fantastic way of going about it,” he said, “so it’s zero cost for Chamber members. Just let us know you’re going to be there. It’s $200 a table for non-members.”

“The Chamber is very excited to have this opportunity to help bring together our members with people in the community who are looking for employment,” Wingate said. “We’re very fortunate to have such a large number of successful businesses located here in Carroll County. This Job Fair is an opportunity to share this success with the entire community.”

In addition to providing career opportunities, Johnson said the goal of the job fair is to connect great companies with great employees and demonstrate what a great workforce Carroll County has to offer.

“What was really exciting is in this last couple of weeks we’ve gotten community support from both North Arkansas College and the Berryville Public Library,” he said.

Johnson said the library will be helping people write and print resumes for free throughout February.

“It’s a great resource people can take advantage of,” he said. “If they haven’t written a resume in a while or haven’t updated it, there’s a free resource any time the library is open.”

The North Arkansas College Carroll County Center will hold an interview skills workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, as part of the Job Fair next week. This will be a free course taught by Joe Berry. You can register online or by calling 870-391-3217.

“The benefit of that for someone who hasn’t been in an interview situation in a while,” Johnson said, “is they can get professional guidance on how to dress for the interview, prepare for the interview and actually have mock interviews that will help them get ready to land the job.”

He continued, “That level of community support shows that we’re a community of people who care about other people and want to help people advance in their careers and find new opportunities.”

McKinney said high school students will also attend the event to learn about the future careers available to them in the area.

“They’ll be there not necessarily looking for job but finding out what skills they need to work for Carroll Electric or some other company some day,” he said.

Claybaker said he had reached out to the three school districts and Connect 4 about having their seniors attend the event.

He said the businesses that will be featured at the Job Fair include Harter House, Tyson Foods, Equity Bank, Cornerstone Bank, Carroll Electric, Mercy Hospital Berryville, Allen Appliance, North Arkansas College, Autumn Hill Therapy and Living Center, the Census Bureau, the Carroll County Senior Activity and Wellness Center and the Area Agency on Aging.

“Northark will have almost a secondary table,” Johnson said. “They’re bringing folks from Harrison to find out what types of classes people would like to take to get ready for a job, and they they will offer those classes here in Berryville.”

He said he wanted to thank media partners, local businesses and volunteers for being willing to help with the event.

“I especially want to thank Tim and Chris because they really got this started,” Johnson said, “and have really done a great thing for this community by making this happen.”

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