By Kevin Brady
Hundreds of locals are expected to turn out this week for a job fair aimed at relieving local unemployment.
The South County Job Fair is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to noon, Sept. 27 at the Hillsborough Community College South Shore campus, 551 24th St. NE in Ruskin. The job fair is being held in association with the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance, Hillsborough Community College South Shore campus and Hillsborough County.
“With the challenges that we are all facing with the economy, the most important thing that we can do in county government is to help our unemployed or under employed citizens to find jobs,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman who is hosting the fair.
“When more people are working, more people are saving and spending money at local businesses, and the economy will continue to improve,” said Murman.
There are few areas in the county that have been hit harder by unemployment than South County, Murman believes.
“It’s critical that we get people back to work,” said Murman whose district includes large swathes of South County west of Interstate 75 as well as sections of northwest Hillsborough. She was first elected in 2010.
As well as founding the South County Job Fair, where more than 30 employers and vendors met with nearly 250 job seekers last year, Murman also spearheaded the Hillsborough County Small Business Job Creation Program, which has put more than 115 people back to work and given nearly 70 of these businesses more resources to help keep their doors open.
Tanya Doran knows the unemployment picture in South County all too well.
“There are still quite a few people out there looking for work. We have people who regularly come seeking employment and these are people with great qualifications,” said the executive director of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce.
While the chamber encourages local job-seekers to use their networks of family, friends and former coworkers, and directs them to local job websites, a trip to the Workforce Alliance is also suggested. And not only for potential employees.
“We highly encourage employers who have openings or may have openings in the next few months to work with the Alliance. They not only have training programs but they also offer incentives for employers. They do a lot of prescreening, which helps with the cost of hiring.”
Around 35 employers including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and Ashley Furniture are expected to turn out for the job fair, according to Mark Douglass, chief operating officer for the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance.
“We are expecting a good turnout as long as the weather allows,” Douglass said.
Hillsborough County’s unemployment rate currently stands at 6.7 percent, down from 8.8 percent at the same time last year, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7 percent, down 1.6 percentage points from 8.6 percent a year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in August. Florida’s unemployment rate was below the national rate for the sixth consecutive month.