Hundreds attend Town’s annual Job Fair – Many hired on the spot!

The Dean and Barbara White Community Center was the hottest spot in Town on Thursday, and it had nothing to do with the weather. Hundreds of job seekers attended Merrillville’s 3rd annual job fair, which featured more than 75 businesses and organizations from Merrillville and Northwest Indiana.

“Companies from A to Z, well really, A to W displayed job opportunities to close to 600 guests, some of whom were offered jobs right on the spot,” Merrillville Town Council President Rick Bella said. “This not only benefits residents but also our area businesses who are seeking qualified employees.”

The Job Fair opened at 11 a.m., and job seekers were eager to participate. “At 10:30, the line was already out the door and around the corner to the front of the building, and it’s been pretty consistent with that flow since it started,” said Kate DeRolf, a Business Service Representative from WorkOne Northwest Indiana.

It wasn’t long into the job fair, and Karry Leukert, Corporate Recruiter for the Bosak Auto Group, already received a handful of resumes from prospective employees. Leukert was impressed with the turnout Thursday, and she said Bosak was happy to participate in the event. She said she’s attended many job fairs in the area, and Merrillville’s stands out. “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it,” Leukert said. DeRolf said Merrillville’s job fair has clearly grown over the years. “This event, year-to-year, keeps getting better and better because they have a great blend of people from across industry and different areas of focus,” DeRolf said.

Linda Rosas, Merrillville’s Administrative & Building Manager/Assistant to the Town Manager & Town Council, coordinated the Town’s job fair. Rosas said this year’s event attracted the largest turnout and most sponsors, and many participating businesses indicated they plan to return next year. “Everybody I spoke with that was represented at the job fair was very pleased with the amazing turnout,” Rosas said. “Albanese hired more than 45 people on the spot, ready to start.” Albanese utilized multiple areas in the event center to meet with prospective employees, gather information about their backgrounds, and conduct interviews.

Zeke Rowan, a Principal at Avison Young, attended Thursday’s event representing the Silos at Sanders Farm development on Mississippi Street. Avison Young is currently marketing the space available at Silos. That includes a 263,000-square-foot spec building that’s been delivered as well as Lake County’s first 1 million-square-foot spec building that’s under development. Companies that could eventually occupy space in those facilities likely will participate in future job fairs in Town.

While at Thursday’s event, WorkOne spent time meeting with job seekers to explain the services the organization provides such as resume building, workshops, a place to print off job-related materials, and support from career advisers.

“A career adviser works as a matchmaker, and they basically get to know the individual, what their short- and long-term job goals are, job-wise because we want to create stayers, not players,” DeRolf said. WorkOne also met with business representatives participating in the job fair to learn about the barriers they’ve encountered when hiring employees. DeRolf said that could be access to childcare and mental health resources.

“Any sort of thing they need to become successful and make their applicants and people working for them more productive,” she said.

DeRolf said WorkOne was pleased with the outcome of the Town’s job fair, and the organization plans to continue to take part in it in coming years. “They’re making it bigger and better,” she said. “Merrillville’s really got their stuff together, it’s great.” DeRolf added.  – Rick Bella, Town Council President

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