Hundreds of people came to the Municipal Event Center in downtown Marion to inquire about new jobs and other opportunities to enhance their careers on Thursday.

The Seventh Annual McDowell County Job Fair took place at the MEC. 2019 marks the second year that the McDowell County Job Fair has been held at this 15,000-square-foot location.

One hour after the doors opened at 1 p.m., around 200 people had come through, said Steve Bush, executive director of the McDowell Chamber of Commerce. Approximately 50 employers, colleges and other vendors took part in this year’s event. Those employers include Baxter Healthcare, ABB, the U.S. Census Bureau, Toolcraft, GE Aviation, WestRock, Auria, Columbia Forest Products, the Marion Police Department, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, Carriage House Doors and many others. Representatives from institutions of higher learning like McDowell Technical Community College and Montreat College were on hand as well.

The people who came to the job fair were able to speak with local and area employers and also learn about ways to improve their job skills.

DiAnne Slater of Marion talked with MTCC instructor Randy Hollifield about possibly earning a degree in cyber crime.

“My real love is community and reaching out to the community,” said Slater to The McDowell News after speaking with Hollifield.

Slater, whose background is in working with the homeless and veterans, said this job fair was a good event that can help local people find new employment.

“This is a nice turnout,” she said. “Whoever coordinated this, they have all the right industries. I think this is going to open some doors for people looking for purposeful employment.”

At the back of the job fair, there were tables so people can fill out applications. Renee Edwards of Marion, who has been unemployed for a couple of weeks, was one of those.

“This is the first time I have been to something like this,” she said to The McDowell News.

She added she found out about services and employers she didn’t know of before.

“Something like this is very handy,” said Edwards.

Nikii Pittman and Margarita Romero represented Columbia Forest Products.

“We’ve had a steady flow,” said Pittman. “They are taking directions on how to apply.

Pittman and Romero handed out instructions to interested persons about how to apply for a job online.

“We do everything online,” said Pittman. “We don’t use papers.”

Meanwhile, Michael Shotwell of Morganton inquired with Tommy Greer of Carriage House Doors in Old Fort about how to get a job there.

Shotwell said he liked this job fair and added there is “a lot of opportunity here.”

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