TERESA CARLSON (LEFT) AND Laura Nystedt of Industrial Molded Rubber Products in Big Lake talk with a job seeker during the Central Minnesota Area Job Fair Tuesday at Monticello High School. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Job Fair does its job

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Staff Writer
Ken Francis
About 500 job seekers and 36 businesses took part in the 10th Annual Central Minnesota Area Job Fair Tuesday at Monticello High School.
Those numbers were down a bit from last year, but Tim Zipoy, business resource representative at Central Minnesota Jobs & Training Services, one of the organizers of the event, says it was still a success.
“I think it was a successful day for those people looking for jobs and those people looking for new employees. It was chance for the public to interact with a wide variety of business sectors in the local labor market,” he says. “And it was an uncommon opportunity for job seekers to get face time one-on-one with individuals who are often hard to get to for one reason or another.”
Many businesses had jobs available and were taking applications and setting up interviews.
Zipoy says Anderson Trucking Services had two interviews scheduled for the next day. A few potential employees who visited the Spee-Dee Delivery booth went directly from the job fair to the St. Cloud location to apply.
A number of businesses were at the job fair for the first time, like Industrial Molded Rubber in Big Lake. 
“We usually exhibit at trade shows, so it’s a little different dialogue here today,” said Laura Nystedt.
“Instead of selling products we’re selling the company for somebody to work for us,” said Teresa Carlson.
The company was looking to hire production workers.
“We’re looking for college students for production jobs during the summer,” said Nystedt. “When it comes to fulltime, we’re always looking for the right person. We’ve got a bunch of big projects were getting ready to launch.”
Becker Furniture World also had jobs available for salespeople,  drivers and delivery assistants.
“I’m always hearing from people that there are no jobs available,” said Mandy Neuman. “Well, yes there are. We’re hiring.”
Lots of companies were looking for workers. Carpentry Contractors was looking for carpenters. Huikko Plumbing was looking for plumbers. Home Depot was looking for people in many different departments - flooring, hardware, lumber, gardening, kitchens and freight handling.
Centra Sota in Buffalo was looking for office support staff, drivers and agronomy (farm) laborers.
“We will have a couple of openings in Buffalo. We’re moving offices,” said Human Resources Manager Megan Hughes. “We have a community lawn care division where we’re always looking for people. Every season, spring and fall, we hire at all of our agronomy locations.” 
As the fair began, Hughes said she was hoping to find at least a few good people.
“Even if we make a couple of connections here, it’s worth it,” she said.
Zipoy says there wasn’t a large number of people at the fair at any given time. But there were always a few visiting the booths and talking with company representatives.
“Generally speaking, the afternoon slowed down, as it always does,” he says. “But we still saw a steady flow of people right up until the end.”
He says even though the numbers were lower, just about everyone he spoke with had positive things to say about the event.
“In my polls of job seekers that were leaving the event, I asked many of them if they found opportunities they were interested in and things they wanted to follow up on, and resoundingly I got ‘yes, yes, yes’,” he says. “The same could be said of the business I polled. They were hoping and expecting to find people, which they did. Some of them unexpectedly found people they didn’t expect to be there.”
But there were still jobs available when the event was over. Zipoy says there were four staffing agencies looking to fill a number of jobs. He was certain they didn’t fill all the positions.
“Most of those folks reported good visits at their booths,” he says. “But Atlas Staffing had over 100 openings in Elk River they were trying to fill.”
For those who weren’t able to attend the job fair, there are still opportunities to connect with many of the companies that were there. Most can be found online by searching www.Minnesotaworks.net or by contacting Zipoy at 763-271-3722.