Jennifer Harris, with freshly printed resumes tucked neatly into a leather portfolio, was on a mission Tuesday at Bonner Arnold Coliseum on the campus of Northeast Mississippi Community College.
“I’ve got a job, but I’d really like to be doing something different,” she said.
Harris was among some 400 attendees at Northeast’s annual Spring Job Fair, which drew nearly 70 businesses, manufacturers, colleges and other exhibitors hoping to add qualified workers.
Harris and the other job-seekers had a variety of potential employers to peruse. Several manufacturers set up tables to recruit maintenance and tool-and-die specialists, production workers and shipping personnel. Banks were looking to add tellers, a cosmetology school was recruiting students and several healthcare organizations were looking for nurses and other key staff members.
Several four-year colleges were hoping to land students who would finish their schooling at their respective schools.
“We had a really good turnout,” said Carrie Cobb, a career technical counselor at Northeast that spearheaded the job fair. “We had people come from all around the state and outside the state, with some from Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama.”
Toyota supplier APMM in Baldwyn was recruiting tool and die and maintenance workers, as well as summer interns to meet a growing demand at the Baldwyn-based plant.
“The vetting process can take a long time,” said Jonathan Pearce, a Human Resources associate with APMM. “We have to use Toyota’s qualifications.”
The plant, with about 600 employees, needs the additional staff, Pearce said.
Furniture manufacture Ashley needs to add workers to the shipping and receiving department at its Ripley facility.
Chas Monaghan, a human resources recruiter for Ashley, said those jobs were ideal for college students who might want to work to earn a little money while still in school.
Ashley is the largest furniture manufacturing company in the U.S., and employs some 3,000 people at its facilities in Northeast Mississippi.
Another well-known company looking to add to its ranks was Acco Brands, the office products supplier which has expanded several times through the years in Booneville.
Don Tygrett, a recruiter for the company, said Acco needs second-shift workers who work from 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. “plus a lot of overtime.”
The benefits and starting paying are “great,” he said. Workers also earn vacation time right away.
“We’ve got 600 workers, plus another 100 from a staffing agency, but we need more,” he said.
The Yokohama tire plant in West Point, which opened in 2015, plans to employ 2,000 employees eventually during four phases of expansion. For now, it’s still filling the 500 positions for its first phase of production.
Renita Cook, with the company’s human resources department, said production workers are needed and maintenance workers at the $300 million plant. Those interested in a career at the facility who weren’t able to make it to the job fair can go to any WIN Job Center to apply, she said.
Harris, who came to the event looking for another career, said she wasn’t looking to work in a manufacturing environment, but said she liked hearing some of the benefits some employers were touting.
“You never say never,” she said with a laugh. “I’m open to anything at this point.”