Photo Gallery | Bennington County Career and Job Expo
BENNINGTON — Forty different employers and dozens of job seekers gathered at the Bennington Fire House on Thursday for the fall Bennington County Career and Job Expo.
Just over 200 people attended, a turnout that thrilled the collection of agencies hosting the event and exceeded their expectations.
"This is the greatest turnout we've had, in terms of employer participation," said Aaron Dickie, career resource specialist with the state Department of Labor, one entity which sponsored the event. "They've actually been reaching out to us, which tells us there's a need in the community."
Employers represented a wide range of businesses including health care, educational institutions, military service, financial institutions and manufacturing.
The job expo has been held annually in the spring for several years. The fall expo is a new initiative with a particular focus on dislocated and underemployed workers.
"We've had businesses close or move out of the area," said Brian Maroney, business accounts manager for Creative Workforce Solutions.
One business that left the area was Plasan Carbon Composites. The company closed its Shields Drive facility in May of 2014 and its Bowen Road facility in July. In total, about 200 people lost their job.
Energizer Holdings confirmed last month that it would lay off workers at its Bennington plant on Gage Street. Between 150 and 200 workers are employed at the plant, where they manufacture hearing aid and button batteries. It's unclear how many employees will be laid off.
But whether or not attendees were affected by those company's layoffs, organizers said the expo was a chance for employers to connect with job seekers.
"It's that face-to-face connection that's important," Maroney said.
One person who found that to be true was Justin Murray, design manager for the Real American Dream Home Company, formerly Vermont Timber Frames.
He was there recruiting for an entry-level drafting position. An ideal candidate would be someone with an associate's degree and some drafting experience. He's been advertising the job for four months and has had applicants from upstate New York, he said, but would love to higher someone locally.
"This was a great networking opportunity for me," he added. "I made a few contacts and learned something new about social media that I didn't even know about."
Sarah Grimaldi, human resource generalist for Apex Resource Technologies in Pittsfield, said she spoke with a few people who were interested in working at the company despite the travel time. The plastic injection molding company's products includes bioabsorable screws used in different types surgeries, notably on joints. Positions that were advertised include a journeyman mold maker and process technician.
Maroney said he had spoken to several attendees who were very happy with the event. Similarly, employers had connected with potential new employees.
"They're leaving here with some hope," he said.
The other organizations sponsoring the event were the Bennington County Industrial Corporation, Southern Vermont College and the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center.
For more information about upcoming events and local resources, contact the Department of Labor at 802-442-6376.