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Job fair held at Regional Service Center exceeds expectations

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image County Commissioner Sandra Murman sponsored the job fair. Photo Mitch Traphagen

Marlene Elizabeth Taylor-Williams of Ruskin, recently discharged from the military, has experience in both social work and education. She was one of the 250 job-seekers to talk with potential employers at the South County Job Fair Sept. 28, Photo Mitch Traphagen

By PENNY FLETCHER

RUSKIN — Marlene Elizabeth Taylor-Williams of Ruskin, recently discharged from the military, has experience in both social work and education. One of the 250 job-seekers to talk with potential employers at the South County Job Fair Sept. 28 held at the South Shore Regional Service Center, 410 30th St. in Ruskin, Taylor-Williams was especially interested in an on-line position being offered by Steve Goodfriend, strategic partnership manager for Rasmussen College.

Goodfriend currently has five openings for on-line positions. Although the site is in Brandon, on-line employees may work from anywhere in the world. Still, he says it’s nice to be able to interview prospective personnel and talk one-on-one.

“Our position for instructors is a unique opportunity and I saw a lot of extremely well-qualified applicants today,” Goodfriend said as the event drew to a close at noon after more than four hours of steady traffic.

The job fair was the brainchild of County Commissioner Sandra L. Murman, the vice chair (and currently the only woman) on the Hillsborough County Commission. Murman represents the county-wide District 1, elected in 2010. She also served the area as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1996 to 2004.

“South County is very close to my heart,” said Murman, who has family living in Apollo Beach. “With the challenges we are facing in the downturn of the economy, the most important thing we can do in county government is to help our unemployed and under-employed citizens find jobs.”

Murman pointed out that when more people are working, more are saving and spending money at local businesses and in that way, the economy improves.

Commissioner Murman’s aides Della Cury and Jeffery Huggins took the helm of arranging the event in cooperation with representatives of the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance based in Tampa that opened a branch at the Ruskin service center earlier this year.

Chris Rivera, business services director from the Workforce Alliance’s corporate office, was on hand for the job fair and said it had exceeded the Alliance’s expectations.

While about 150 job-seekers were expected, more than 250 showed up, starting at 7:30 a.m.

“We weren’t going to open the doors until 8:30,” said Huggins. “But we opened up at 8 because there were already some people waiting outside.”
Rivera and Huggins said this was the first such event been held jointly in South County although similar job fairs have been held in the northern part of the county.

Huggins said the last two weeks were hectic as he and others manned phones making certain there would be a good range of employers present to interview those seeking work.

“We saw employers in retail, education, transportation and for both state and county jobs,” Huggins said.

Small businesses – owned and operated by an individual- were also represented, like Immaculate Janitorial Service, LLC, based in Brandon, owned and run by LaShunda Mangum. “My service covers three counties,” she said. “Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas. I interviewed 25 people for 6 openings. There are a lot of qualified people seeking jobs.”

It was good to see both large and small businesses represented, Huggins said. “We had a man from Fed X come over from Daytona Beach. We also had people from the local Home Depot and Lowes.”

Cookies and drinks were provided by Publix.

The event took between 30 and 45 days to plan, Huggins said.

“We really made a hard push these last two weeks to be sure there were plenty of employers,” Huggins stated. “It was worth it. The morning exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

To find out more about the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance stop by the South Shore Regional Service Center, 410 30th Street, Ruskin, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or visit www.workforcetampa.com.

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