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150 people, 35 firms attend Mitchell job fair

Potential employees go from booth to booth during the 2014 Mitchell Community Job Fair at the Mitchell Technical Institute Trade Center building Thursday in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

Anthony Scott arrived at the Mitchell Community Job Fair on Thursday as a confident man.

That trait and his openness might have been his best skills as he chatted with employers on hand in the Trades Center at Mitchell Technical Institute.

Scott was recently released from the state prison in Springfield after serving time for a burglary four years ago. At 35 years old, he said it’s time to start the rest of his life, and he was looking for a job with a local manufacturer. In particular, he was most interested in a welding job, a field he was introduced to during his incarceration through a skills program.

“It would be a good career with good benefits,” Scott said. “I want a job where you’re making use of a skill. That’s something that I need.”

Looking to start over, he said he has nothing to hide.

“I’m just trying to be open and honest,” Scott said. “I’m not ashamed. I made my mistakes and I’m ready to move forward.”

Scott was one of the roughly 150 people who arrived interested in learning more about careers from about 35 businesses that were at the job fair. Manufacturing, retail, banking, automotive and trades work were among the many different industries represented. That included Dakota Supply Group, represented at the job fair by Todd Langbehn. He said the event was a great idea because it got Dakota Supply Group — which specializes in wholesale sales of parts for tradespeople — some recognition in front of those looking for work.

“People don’t know what kind of jobs are available in the wholesale industry and this gets the company out in front of people and shows them what we have to offer,” Langbehn said. “We’re an employer in South Dakota and it’s hard for everyone to get help, so every little piece helps.”

Kayce Tschetter represented Wilbur-Ellis’ summer internship program. She said a job fair uniquely allows employers to gauge whether or not there’s a mutual interest in a position, something that can’t be done in any other format.

“It’s good to be able to see people face to face and be able to gauge their interest and know whether or not this could be a good fit. That’s very important and it’s a big help for us.”

Keith Johnson, the residential sales manager for Paulson Air in Mitchell, said that the fair was also a good way to not only get in front of young people, but to market to those who might be a bit older and are looking for a career change.

“We’re also looking for people with job experience,” he said.

“Maybe not in our field but people who have a job and want to advance themselves further.”

His colleague Charles Mason added that the job fair was a unique format to be able to have access to a large pool of interested workers and it makes it easier to pinpoint the employees they’re looking for.

“We’ve noticed over the last three or four years that it’s hard to find the perfect employee,” he said. “If you can find the right person, it’s easy to make them into the perfect employee. If we meet the right person, that’s where the opportunities are.”

Laurie Cooper, the director of operations for the Mitchell Area Development Corporation, said the event went well for its inaugural year being open to the community.

“I think our employers were very pleased with the type of turnout that we had,” Cooper said. “We had people filling out applications on the spot and we had some very qualified job seekers on hand.”

On the hunt

Ginger Manke was among those pursuing the displays and scoping things out. The 22-year-old Mitchell resident is not immediately in need of a job; she already has a solid position with a local daycare that she intends to keep. But since graduating from MTI with a degree as an administrative office specialist in December, she knows a different job will be needed at some point.

“Eventually, I’ll have to take that next step,” Manke said. “So I thought I would look into what was out there and get a sense of my options.”

Manke said she’s hoping to stay in the area, and it’s a good feeling to know Mitchell has job openings.

“It was scary there for a while for a lot of people with the recession. But it’s good to know that we’re a strong enough state to continue on and keep good jobs available.”