The list of employers committed to attend a major job fair and career expo in Columbus next week has yet to hit 100. But Walt Pollock still has high hopes the event can surpass the century mark.
"If not, we're going to be real close," said Pollock, the Georgia Department of Labor veterans representative who has organized the fair for several years. "I just picked up the Drug Enforcement Administration today. Some of the employers are the usuals, but there's one or two different ones there. (Automaker) Kia and (freight shipper) UPS are two that don't normally attend."
As of Thursday afternoon, 86 businesses, organizations, law enforcement agencies and educational institutions had signed up for the fair, which is sponsored by Clear Channel Radio. It will take place 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center, 801 Front Ave.
More than 2,000 job seekers are expected to attend, the Labor Department estimates.
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Kia Motors is the most high-profile company that will show up, simply for the number of workers it needs for its auto assembly factory being built in West Point, Ga. About 2,500 employees are being sought for the plant scheduled to open in November 2009.
"We're gearing up to make sure that everybody that comes to the job fair, if they are interested in Kia, will be able to put their application in online," said Pollock, referring to banks of computers being set up at the fair specifically for firms that require applications be submitted via the Web.
Kia's online application site is www.kiajobsingeorgia.com.
There also will be an area at the fair for job prospects to review and update their resumes, Pollock said. But there won't be career workshops like those held in the past.
Among the familiar companies that will be on hand is supplemental insurer Aflac. The firm, which now employs more than 4,000 in Columbus, does not have specific hiring targets for 2008, said spokesman Donald Carson.
Aflac, however, did fill more than 500 positions from external prospects in 2007, he said. Those were jobs filled from the normal churn of employees leaving the company or perhaps being promoted.
"Typically at job fairs we are often filling positions dealing with customer service and customer facing positions in policy services and claims," Carson said.
Of the educational institutions attending the fair, Chattahoochee Valley Community College will be looking for people who need a General Equivalency Diploma, Pollock said. GEDs typically are a very basic requirement for landing a job of any type.
Thursday's job fair comes with unemployment worsening in the Columbus metro area. The rate jumped from 4.8 percent in November to 5.3 percent in December, according to the most recent data compiled by the state Labor Department.
The statewide rate in December was 4.6 percent, up from 4.2 percent the month before. Job losses occurred in manufacturing, construction and some service-related sectors, prompting Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond to call the large increase in unemployment "troubling."
Columbus' work force now stands at 123,900, making it the fourth-largest in the state, trailing only Atlanta (2.5 million), Augusta (217,600) and Savannah (163,100).
NEED A JOB?
A job fair and career expo is scheduled 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center, 801 Front Ave.
For more information about the fair — including employers wishing to participate — contact the Georgia Department of Labor's Columbus Career Center at 706-649-74423.
LOOKING FOR EMPLOYEES
Here is a list of the employers who have signed up for Thursday's job fair and career expo so far:
AIG American General
Albany Police Dept.
American Home Shield
American Truck Driving Academy
Army & Air Force Exchange Service
Atlanta Police Dept.
Auburn Police Dept.
Cessna Aircraft Co.
Clear Channel Radio
Chattahoochee Valley Community College
City of Albany
Cobb County Police Dept.
Cobb County Sheriff's Office
Columbus Fire & EMS
Columbus Police Dept.
Columbus Regional Healthcare System
Columbus Specialty Hospital
Columbus State University
Columbus Technical College
Chattahoochee Valley Community College
DeKalb County Police Dept.
Drug Enforcement Administration
First Command Financial
Flournoy Construction Co.
Freedom Home Care
Georgia Army National Guard
Georgia Dept. of Labor
Georgia Dept. of Revenue
Georgia Military College
Global Diagnostic Services
Global Personnel Services
Gwinnett County Police Dept.
Harris County School District
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia
LaGrange Police Dept.
Mobile County Personnel Board
Muscogee County School District
Muscogee Manor Center
Omega Training Group
Opelika Police Dept.
Pratt & Whitney
Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation
Southeastern Beauty & Barber Schools
Synovus Financial Corp.
TIC Federal Credit Union
Troops to Teachers
Truck Driving Institute
University of Phoenix
West Central Georgia Regional Hospital
West Georgia Technical College
Woodmen of the World