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Employers gearing up for Thursday's job fair in Columbus

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.

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:

Aaron's

Accounting Principals

Aflac headquarters

Aflac sales

AIG American General

Albany Police Dept.

American Home Shield

American Truck Driving Academy

Army & Air Force Exchange Service

Atlanta Police Dept.

Auburn Police Dept.

Avon

BlueCross BlueShield

Callaway Gardens

CareerPro 360

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.

DeVry University

Drug Enforcement Administration

Equity Group

First Command Financial

Flournoy Construction Co.

Freedom Home Care

Georgia Army National Guard

Georgia Dept. of Labor

Georgia Dept. of Revenue

Georgia Military College

GEOSYNTEC Consultants

Global Diagnostic Services

Global Personnel Services

Goodwill

Gwinnett County Police Dept.

Harris County School District

Hughston Clinic

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia

Kroger Co.

Kysor//Warren

LaGrange Police Dept.

Lear-Siegler

Manpower

MilitaryHire.Com

Mobile County Personnel Board

Muscogee County School District

Muscogee Manor Center

Omega Training Group

Opelika Police Dept.

Pratt & Whitney

Pre-Paid Legal

Primerica

ResCare HomeCare

Road America

Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation

Safe System

Silpada Designs

Southeastern Beauty & Barber Schools

Spherion

Staffing Connections

Staffing Solutions

Strayer University

Synovus Financial Corp.

TIC Federal Credit Union

Troops to Teachers

Troy University

Truck Driving Institute

TSYS

University of Phoenix

UPS

U.S. Army

Valley Hospitality

Waffle House

Westaff

West Central Georgia Regional Hospital

West Georgia Technical College

Woodmen of the World

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