SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Hundreds of people came to Covington last year to meet employers at a regional job fair.
This year, organizers expect that number to be in the thousands, with more companies on hand too.
The 2018 Regional Job Fair will be from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Oct. 5 at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, 8100 Bobby Williams Parkway, Covington.
In a news conference Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice said a booming national economy makes this a perfect time for an event that will feature more than 30 industries, nine staffing services and 10 government agencies.
“What we have here are multiple jobs, multiple opportunities,” Hice said. “We already have over 55 vendors who are going to be here, as of right now, (and) over 700 jobs available that are going to be here.”
New this year will be continuing education courses on skills like résumé writing, interview skills and dressing for success; relocation information from local real estate agents; and industry spotlights.
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said the event will be a big way to help two major goals he has for the city.
“One of the things we’ve been focused on in Covington is trying to do two things,” he said. “One is to eradicate poverty. I use the word ‘eradicate’ for a purpose because that means everybody is out of poverty. The other goal is having what I call zero unemployment.”
Both goals can be achieved with better jobs, and he said the job fair will help.
“This job fair is a job fair for everybody,” Johnston said.
Tavarez Holston, the new president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, said he was impressed by the spirit of cooperation he’s seen in putting together the event for boosting people’s fortunes.
“I’m really excited about the collaborative feeling that I get when I walk in this morning: Everybody’s on the same team and we all have that goal in mind.”
Holston, who began his work earlier this month, worked in economic development before entering academia.
He said both his old career and his new have similar targets.
“My ultimate goal is to produce a skilled, qualified workforce,” he said.
“One thing that has not changed is that constant question that I hear from employers. The question they ask when they want to locate to a community or they want to look at expanding or sustaining their operations in a community, the question they ask is can the community provide us a skilled and qualified workforce.
“That has not changed. I don’t see that changing, and that’s really in the wheelhouse of Georgia Piedmont Technical College.”
Hice said he’s impressed by what he sees in the economy.
“There couldn’t be a better time to be looking for work in Georgia than right now,” he said.
“Georgia has been recognized as the best state in the nation to do business for five consecutive years now. That’s unprecedented, and you combine that with the economic boom that is occurring all across our country, it really sets the state for enormous opportunity right here.
“The hub — I believe — of what’s happening in Georgia is right here in the 10th District, specifically right here in this area, and I say hats off to the incredible leaders of Newton County and surrounding areas. … You’re doing a tremendous job.”
Shire PLC, a leading global pharmaceutical company, will be one of the industries represented at the job fair. Carlos Soto, the site head of Shire’s Stanton Springs facility, said the company is looking for all types of workers.
“We’re looking for people coming out of high school … that can help us with the manufacturing of our products, all the way to a lot of expertise,” he said. “We have a lot of engineers and Ph.D.s.”
He said the company could come close to doubling its headcount of 900 employees in the next three years.
“It would be a great story if a big percentage of that comes from within the region,” he said.
Carlin Thomas, the president and general manager of Bulldog Steel Fabrication in Madison, said his company has grown too, from seven employees when he began in 2011 to 60 now.
“In 2016 we added a second shift and some new equipment,” he said. “Within the next three to five years, we’re looking to have at least 75 employees.”
Bulldog Steel Fabrication also will be at the job fair.
“You will be able to meet firsthand people like Carlos and Carlin and talk about these and many other job opportunities,” Hice said. “I want to urge everyone: This is the time. We have an opportunity before us that we need to seize, not only in our nation but in our state and specifically in our region.”
Partners in the event include Hice, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Newton/Covington Economic Development, the Development Authority of Walton County, the Madison-Morgan Chamber, the Development Authority of Jasper county, Greene County Economic Development and The Covington News.