Hundreds seek jobs at 'Caldwell is Hiring'
Marty Berquist moved to Caldwell County from Virginia four years ago, when he married his wife, who works for Caldwell County Schools.
Since then Berquist, whose background is in sales of motorcycles, ATVs and generators, has been looking for work from Boone to Hickory. Without a job, he has been buying and selling on eBay to make ends meet, and he came to Thursday's "Caldwell is Hiring" at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center looking for something more reliable.
“You’ve got to get out and beat the bushes,” Berquist said. “So that’s what I’m here doing.”
Berquist joined hundreds of others, such as Lakelyn Elder, who drove from Taylorsville for the chance to meet some of the more than 20 employers who came to "Caldwell is Hiring" with more than 550 jobs to fill.
Elder is currently employed as an assistant gymnastics instructor but needs a better job. She's hoping for a position in child care, her area of expertise, and talked Thursday to representatives of Google, Childforms and Caldwell Memorial Hospital.
More than 200 people filed in during the first 30 minutes of the event, which ran 3-6 p.m., said William Howard, chairman of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.
But even with those high early numbers, organizers expected that by the end of the day the turnout would smaller than in past years, Howard said, which they hope is due to fewer people being unemployed. When the first "Caldwell is Hiring" was held in 2011, the county’s unemployment rate was around 14 percent, he said, and today it’s around 9 percent.
Thursday's event also was the first held in mid- to late afternoon to allow people to attend who have jobs but want better ones. The effect of the time change was uncertain, Howard said, though he thought he saw more young people and students this time.
Newer companies in the area, such as Bakers Waste Equipment and Woodgrain Millwork were at the event trying to fill out their staff, showing the larger progress in the economy in recent months, and together, the two companies represented nearly 50 available jobs.
Pat Turnmire of Woodgrain Millwork said his company, which had nearly 20 vacancies, had found a few solid job candidates after just the first hour Thursday.
“We’re actually from the area,” Turnmire said. “We know how the economy has been and we’re looking forward to being able to give people in Caldwell County the opportunity to work.”