Food-related job fair brings in crowd

Amelia Holliday Staff Reporter aholliday@civitasmedia.com

June 10, 2014

HAZARD—A job fair in Perry County last week brought out more than 60 job seekers—some even waited in line to be the first ones there before the event began on Wednesday—for food industry jobs in the area.

The Office of Employment and Training (OET) and the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) hosted the fair, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Kentucky Career Center JobSight in Hazard.

Cris Ritchie, marketing and communications specialist with EKCEP, said on Wednesday that the event was a hit even before the doors were opened that morning.

“I think from the turn out we’ve had, we’ve had some folks lined up in the hallway out here and I think when we opened the doors there were people out there waiting. I think there’s definitely some interest,” Ritchie said, adding that 22 applicants had already registered within the first half hour of the fair.

Don Hensley, the general manager for Lee’s Famous Chicken in Hazard, one of at least 10 local employers at the fair, said he was very optimistic about the food industry job fair, which is one of the first of its kind of EKCEP and OET.

“We’re just looking to kind of up our staff a little bit, and we’re always looking for intelligent people that are eager to grow and to advance,” Hensley said. “Most people don’t think about the restaurant business being a career, but I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and it’s been good to me.”

Ritchie explained that while this job fair was not centered around an industry that many associate EKCEP job fairs with—coal—the program aims to look at all avenues for employment opportunities for the people it represents. He added that this particular job fair was held at this time of the year for a specific reason.

“At this particular time we thought it was a good time to hold it because it’s going into summer and there might be some college students, some high school students who need some part-time work. So, we’re not just having this for full-time folks but it’s part-time also,” Ritchie said.

Krysta Combs, a student at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), was one of the applicants looking for part-time employment opportunities at the fair.

“I’ve been home since the beginning of May, and I’ve put in applications places and it doesn’t really look like they’re looking for anyone,” she said.

Combs added that being able to go to a job fair and see that local employers are taking the initiative to find employees helps in the hunt for a job.

“The people here are actually looking to hire. I just think it’s good too for some people because some places I mean you would know about but you wouldn’t really be as interested in because when you talk to the people here they give you some more options than what you just had in mind,” Combs said.

Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.