After a dearth of job opportunities during the Great Recession, Clark County has been host to three job fairs in two years and will hold a fourth in March.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce are hosting a job fair in the Hollenbeck Bayley Conference Center from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 6.
“We used to hold career fairs at the fairgrounds and bus in students,” said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employee services for the chamber. “There was such a downturn there was no one hiring for a couple of years.”
The need for a job fair became apparent when Thirty One Gifts opened in Springfield in 2011 and the economy began to show signs of recovery.
“We look at how many companies have shared open postings online,” said Donahoe.
She said she also works with the chamber’s program that checks on companies to see what they need for economic development.
Officials use Ohio Means Jobs, a state-run website that pulls job links to job postings in the state, to see how many jobs are available in the area. As of Wednesday, there are 9,046 open positions available in a 30-mile radius of Springfield.
“But it’s not like a golden number we look at,” Donahoe said. “It’s the urgency of need, type of need and the amount of needs within various companies.”
Both Donahoe and Lehan Peters, the deputy director of Job and Family Services of Clark County and WorkPlus One-Stop Center, say they’ve had an increase of companies who call in need of skilled employees.
“We’ve had so many employers call in and say we need skilled workers, so we kind of gauge, ‘Is this the right time to roll out another job fair?’ ” Peters said.
In job fairs past, between 32 and 38 employers attended in search of employees. To accommodate more, the job fair has been moved to Hollenbeck from the Courtyard by Marriott.
Donahoe said employers are attracted by the amount of job seekers who attend and the low cost to attend. Previous job fairs have pulled nearly 800 job seekers each — with the exception of an October job fair in New Carlisle that attracted less than 100 people.
Also, some fairs can cost up to $300 for an employer, but the local job fair costs $50 to $75 to have a booth.
“We can keep the costs so low because Lehan does a great job pulling down funding,” Donahoe said. “And we have to pay for the venue, tables and food costs.”
Peters said a job fair costs between $3,000 and $4,000 to put on. She said they use local allocations of the workforce investment act.
“So when we can demonstrate we still have a high demand of people looking jobs, I can use some of the money for outreach,” Peters said.
The state receives $1 million workforce investment dollars from the federal government, and $330,000 is distributed to the district that includes Clark County. None of this money can be used to provide refreshments, Peters pointed out.
The main difference, besides location, is that the fair will be held later hours than previous fairs, which were held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Peters said Clark County JFS ran some reports showing that nearly 4,500 people on food stamps had jobs — sometimes multiple jobs — but received no cash assistance and needed a better job. She said the later hours are to give the underemployed a chance to find a better job through the job fair.