Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
When Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce members told her they needed to find help to grow their businesses or, even more alarming, that they might have to scale back their hours because they couldn’t find enough employees to cover shifts, chamber president Lisa Messer Conley said she knew she needed to do something. She needed to help connect these business owners with people looking for work.
It just so happens there is an entire organization dedicated exactly to that goal. So, Conley joined up with the Northeast Kentucky Career Center for a recent job fair event in Olive Hill.
“Through (social media) I kept seeing various businesses in Olive Hill saying they needed delivery drivers. They needed bartenders. They needed servers,” she said.
In the midst of this she connected, also through social media, with Angie Fife from the Northeast Kentucky Career Center.
“I called her and said, ‘Can we do a job fair?’” she explained.
Fife responded in the affirmative and it grew from there.
“She really got everything turning, and I sent out an email to membership,” Messer Conley continued. “We ended up with fifteen businesses plus an informational.”
She said while not all the businesses who signed up for the job fair sent a representative, they had a few come and ask if they could get a slot on the day of the event, so, “it all balanced out.”
It’s important, she explained, for the health of member businesses.
“When you have Chamber members that are telling you, ‘I’m going to have to shut down one or two days a week, because I can’t find employees,’ then you do something about it. And that’s what we did,” Messer Conley said.
The event generated a good amount of interest from job seekers too, she said.
“It has been busy all day, until now” she said with a laugh as the event wound down for the afternoon and job seekers dwindled to trickle, but continued to steadily flow through the space.
Karl Bustetter, from Walker’s Restaurant, heard about the event through the Chamber and set up to try to fill openings for wait staff and grill cooks.
“We’re looking for high energy people who want to work,” Bustetter said, for “very competitive” wages.
He said he interviewed a couple of individuals he would be interested in following up with, but it wouldn’t take more than one to make the event worthwhile for him.
“If I could get one employee out of this, it would be worth my time in being here,” he said. Two would be even better, but he said any help in keeping the doors open would be welcome.
Messer Conley followed up by noting that for those looking to work close to home there were options available, as the job fair proved.
“People can’t say they need to go outside Olive Hill to get a paycheck now,” she said. “There are way too many here, $10 an hour and above.”
The Northeast Community Action Kentucky Career Center will be hosting another job fair May 26, 10 am – 2 pm, at the National Guard Armory. Businesses interested in participating can contact Messer Conley at (606)315-5787 for more information.
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