Job seeker Timothy Mile (right) is talking to For Richmond Steering Committeae member Willie Hicks at the job fair. Hicks is also a business representative for Laborers International Union of North America Local 324.
By Post Staff
Timothy Miles lost his job a year ago, and the Richmond resident has been on the hunt for new opportunities ever since.
When a Facebook advertisement about the May 9 Richmond Chamber of Commerce Business Expo and Job Fair caught his eye, he quickly registered for free through the For Richmond coalition’s website.
Attending the job fair, Miles, 35, slowly made his way past booths and displays at the Richmond Memorial Convention Center, collecting brochures, talking to labor representatives and planning his future enrollment in one of many job training courses offered in the area.
“I’m so glad I came out for this because I really had no idea that there were so many classes and apprenticeship programs available,” he said. “I just can’t believe how many opportunities there are here, and I can’t wait to sign up.”
More than 150 job seekers turned out at the job fair, which was organized as part of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s 4th Annual Economic Summit. The summit is held annually by the chamber to unite business, economic development and workforce training experts and facilitate discussions about the policies that establish, create and sustain jobs within the City of Richmond.
Attendees participated in a morning tour of Richmond businesses, followed by a keynote speech by Kish Rajan, director of GO-Biz, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
They spent the afternoon listening to panel discussions on a range of economic topics, including the real estate market, funding for small businesses and job trends in Richmond.
For Richmond, a new Richmond-based coalition uniting the community in the areas of jobs, public safety, education and health, helped sponsor the daylong summit and led a panel of construction industry experts who discussed upcoming job opportunities in construction, and how Richmond is preparing for the surge in new building jobs through workforce training programs.
Sal Vaca, director of RichmondBUILD, the City of Richmond’s jobs training program, talked about the need for more pre-apprentice programs for trades that employ program graduates in order to ensure that residents are able to access “high quality jobs for a better Richmond.”
The job fair began around 4:30 p.m. “It’s really been eye-opening to see how many people came looking for work,” said Judith Morgan, CEO and president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. “We will definitely have to do the job fair again – but bigger next time to help meet the demand from job seekers.”
The fair featured 34 booths staffed by local business and job training representatives. Information was available about construction training and apprenticeship programs, including the Carpenters Local Union 152, Laborers Union Local 324, the Operating Engineers Local Union 3, among others.
“Today was awesome, but the popularity of this job fair and the large crowds showed us how badly our community needs opportunities like this,” said Willie Hicks, a business representative for Laborers International Union of North America Local 324.