Looking for a job? Keep reading. Even if you missed Saturday’s job fair at the Cullman Aquatic Center, several local employers are keeping open the lines of communication to court job seekers, as the area emerges from the summer-long public health lockdown, rolls up its sleeves, and cautiously gets back to work.
A dozen local industries and businesses turned out for the job fair, hosted by the Cullman-covered Region 1 division of workforce services nonprofit North AlabamaWorks!. Large local employers like Walmart, Topre, Rehau, AGCOR Steel, HomTex, NAFCO, HH Technologies, Rusken Packaging and more showed up to engage with potential recruits; joined by newer locally-operated businesses like Sequence Health and Busted Knuckle Off Road — a Dodge City company that outfits and customizes high-end parts and accessories for recreational all-terrain enthusiasts.
Even though Cullman County continues to enjoy the state’s second-lowest unemployment rate at 5.4 percent (edged out slightly during the month of August by Clay County at 5.1 percent), the apparent downslope of the coronavirus lockdown has created a significant number of job openings that local employers need to fill. That means it’s a job seeker’s market at the moment, according to Susan Eller, retail & workforce development manager for the Cullman Economic Development Agency.
“We had 12 businesses and industries here today, and right now we’re looking at over 100 jobs we need to fill,” she said at Saturday’s event. “Walmart is probably the largest of those right now, because they’re looking for both full-time and seasonal help.
Cullman EDA served as the coordinating agency for the job fair, with participation from Cullman County Economic Development, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, Cullman Parks & Recreation, and Wallace State Community College.
“We put this job fair together on relatively short notice, because the demand from the industry side for new employees was there,” explained Eller. “We were just hearing from a lot of our industries that they were having a hard time finding employees, and we worked with all of our participants to set something up so that employers could actually get face to face with applicants.”
Stephanie McCulloch, executive director for the North AlabamaWorks! region that covers Cullman and 12 other North Alabama counties, said this was her agency’s first on-site job fair in the Cullman area — though it’s unlikely to be the last, as the nonprofit continues to forge local partnerships with industries and workforce development programs in partnership with Wallace State Community College.
“This is actually something that we’re just beginning to get into,” she explained. “We’d done a virtual job fair back in July, with several companies from Cullman that participated. But there was still a need for this area to hold an in-person job fair on top of that. With unemployment being a little bit higher right now, and with people wanting to get back to work after the big spike in unemployment from COVID, this is a way to connect companies with people who are looking to return to work.”
“The great thing for anyone who’s looking for a job is that this really isn’t just a one-and-done event,” added Eller. “If someone wasn’t able to make it out to the job fair, they can still go online and continue to see what’s available, and apply for positions, in the days ahead. There’s definitely an ongoing opportunity for people to follow up.”
Below are job-related links to a number of local companies that are actively seeking employees, according to the Cullman Economic Development Agency. “Just because the job fair is over doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for employees,” said Eller. “These online resources offer links where people can still apply.”