Knox County job fair brings optimism for companies, job seekers

Knox County job fair brings optimism for companies, job seekers

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"I've had applications everywhere and so far it's been not very successful," said Teresa West, a Knoxville resident. "I've had applications everywhere and so far it's been not very successful," said Teresa West, a Knoxville resident.
The fair was attended by more than 600 people. The fair was attended by more than 600 people.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Hundreds turned out Thursday to one of the biggest state-sponsored job fairs in Tennessee history.

On Tuesday, 225 employees of Sea Ray's Knoxville boat plant found out they would be out of a job when the plant closes for good at the end of the year.

The announcement means more people will be looking for work in Knox County.  

On Thursday, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development sponsored the Knox County career fair.  

The fair was attended by more than 600 people. It's the highest turnout of any job fair sponsored by the Department of Labor in state history.  

Jay Tenney attended the career fair and is looking for a full-time job. He recently graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science.

Tenney said he has been struggling to find a full-time job in the field and has had to rely on temporary work.  

"I've really wanted to work in the field, but it's really tough finding a job in it," said Tenney.  

Tenney's struggle has been echoed by many others who attended the career fair.  

"I've had applications everywhere and so far it's been not very successful," said Teresa West, a Knoxville resident.  

The unemployment rate is down nationwide, but remains stagnant in Knox County.  

"A number of people have been long-term unemployed and there's sense a frustration and a sense of being discouraged," said Rep. Harry Brooks. "These events offer a sense of hope, a sense of promise."

Thirty companies were at the job fair offering a total of 350 jobs. The positions ranged from entry-level to executive positions.

Answer Financial, a Knoxville-based insurance agency, is looking to hire 80 sales agents.  

"We are hiring. Jobs are available," said Terri Alexander, a recruiter with Answer Financial.    

John Wilcox owns a business that leases skilled labor to the construction industry. He said the business is thriving and is ready to hire many of the people he met at the fair.

"We were swamped," Wilcox said. "This was exceptional. We hope we can at least get 10 to 20 men out of this one."

Many are encouraged by the positive signs and the improving economy.

"I definitely feel more confident the economy is going to turn around," said Tenney.

A high-level Sea Ray employee was at the fair gathering information for some of the employees that were laid off.  

The Tennessee Career Center said several employers are willing to go on-site with Sea Ray at a later date in an effort to help those 225 laid-off workers find jobs. 

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