More than 200 people visited the Opportunity Fair in the first 45 minutes the doors were open Monday morning, according to the staff of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The job fair, held between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday (Nov. 24) at the Fort Smith Convention Center, had 59 exhibitors, including the Bartlesville, Okla., Economic Development Corp.
The event was “presented” by the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, and sponsored by the city of Fort Smith.
The Bartlesville EDC purchased three billboards in the Fort Smith area — signs are located in the area around Whirlpool and Rheem — hoping to capture workers laid off from Whirlpool, Rheem and other operations in the area. Jim Fram, president and CEO of the Bartlesville EDC, said that area has an unemployment rate around 3 percent.
“Our companies here could benefit from some of those workers (recently laid off),” Fram said.
Tom Manskey, president of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, was asked by The City Wire about his thoughts of other communities seeking to pulled skilled workers out of the area.
“Regarding Bartlesville, (Arkansas Department of Workforce Services) registered them for the fair. I am told that it was at the request of Whirlpool out of concern for some of their younger employees who may be more mobile,” Manskey explained in an e-mail. “This is why we plan on having another Opportunity Fair after the holidays without the assistance of DWS.”
Other exhibitors at the job fair included, Van Buren-based USA Truck, the Fort Smith Adult Education Center, Arkansas Tech University-Ozark campus and the United States Marine Corps.
Job fair attendees look through materials at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith booth.
Sheri Neely (left), with Kelly Services, talks to a job seeker about potential work options.
Representatives of SOS Staffing visit with job seekers about available jobs in the oil and gas industry.