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EDC: Some employers recruiting outside area
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Some local industries are taking part in — and in some cases holding their own — job fairs outside the area to recruit employees.
Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., told the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the EDC staff attended a regional job fair in Lynchburg with representatives of ICF International, which invested $15 million to locate to Martinsville about 16 months ago.
In May, ICF reported more than 170 employees working at its Patriot Center operations. ICF projects that it will employ 539 people here in two years.
To help local industries meet and fill their immediate needs, the EDC also is working to schedule what Heath referred to as “job fair/road show-type” events in other areas.
Participating companies will travel to college towns in other areas to participate in the job fairs, he said.
Areas under consideration for job fairs are the campuses of, or areas near, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg; the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; and Harrisonburg, which includes the campus of James Madison University, he said.
Out-of-state areas also are being discussed, Heath said, such as the North Carolina areas of Chapel Hill and Raleigh.
More than one company will participate in the events, to allow for a combined total of 50 or more available jobs, “instead of one or two” at individual companies, Heath said.
The project also may attract young people who previously moved out of the area to find work or pursue higher education, as well as others, Heath said, and added that more people returning and moving to Henry County and Martinsville will help the area.
The EDC also is working with companies such as Drake Extrusion to fill jobs that may require specialized training, Heath said.
For instance, Drake needs a maintenance worker, Heath said. He explained that position may require certification in electrical, plumbing or other types of work.
Heath said the EDC approaches economic development from so many different areas because a multi-pronged plan is needed, he said.
“This is not the old school” of economic development, Heath said. “We are not sitting around waiting for somebody to call like in the old days. We understand there is no cookie cutter program for this, and there is no one-size-fits-all.”
As a result, the agency also continues developing a website that will allow companies to list vacant local positions, the skills needed to fill them and places where training is available, Heath said.
He noted that discussions are ongoing between educators and industries to align education/training with the skills needed by local companies.
“To be honest, I’m not sure all these (training) programs exist right now,” he said. “Things have changed so fast, I’m not sure they even exist.”