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Published: Tuesday, 10/18/2011

Toledo job fair draws 1,500 to SeaGate

More than 2 dozen firms seek workers

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Job seekers line up to talk to Angie Zalesak, corporate human resources manager for Libbey Inc., right, during the Jobs & Career Fair 2011 at the SeaGate Convention Centre. She said she aimed to find candidates to fill 15 to 20 general labor jobs. Job seekers line up to talk to Angie Zalesak, corporate human resources manager for Libbey Inc., right, during the Jobs & Career Fair 2011 at the SeaGate Convention Centre. She said she aimed to find candidates to fill 15 to 20 general labor jobs.
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Dave Waganfeald would have preferred to be almost anywhere than queued up patiently waiting to speak with representatives of First Solar Inc. and other prospective employers at Monday’s Jobs & Career Fair 2011 at the SeaGate Convention Centre downtown.

After three months without work, the place the Temperance man would have most preferred to be was back on the job.

“I’d like to stay out of a factory-type position, but at this point, I’ll take what I can get,” said Mr. Waganfeald, who had been an operations manager and co-owner in a local cabinet hardware business before it was forced to close this year because of a lack of orders.

“We closed down because we relied too much on the construction industry. It’s not good, not good at all.”

County officials said more than 1,500 people crowded into the convention center during the five-hour fair to speak with some of the region’s largest and most established employers in hopes of landing a job. With more than two dozen employers on hand actively trying to fill vacant or new positions, it seemed to be a match made in heaven.

“This is the first time we’ve done one of these job fairs here,” said Diana Davis, a human resources specialist with Pilkington North America LLC’s Rossford plant, which was trying to fill both hourly production jobs and salaried positions. “We felt it was time this year to do something different, to come up with some different credentials among our applicants.”

There were a number of local employers at the job fair that aren’t normally part of such efforts, including many unionized workplaces and some of the region’s most established companies.

Dave Waganfeald of Temperance had co-owned a local cabinet hardware firm that closed. Dave Waganfeald of Temperance had co-owned a local cabinet hardware firm that closed.
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Long lines of potential applicants filed past a handful of people representing Chrysler Group LLC’s Toledo Assembly complex in one corner of the convention’s center’s display hall.

They were handed a business card with the Internet addresses of the automaker’s online hiring center for hourly and salaried jobs — chryslercareers.com and hourlychryslerjobs.com — and told to watch there to apply should the automaker move ahead as expected with a plan to add as many as 1,105 new jobs at the complex. Those jobs will start at about $14 an hour.

“We do a lot of local college job fairs, but this is the first time we’re down here,” said Angie Zalesak, corporate human resources manager at Libbey Inc., who said she was hoping to find candidates to fill 15 to 20 general labor jobs at the glass maker’s plant in north Toledo. The jobs start at $13.52 an hour, she said.

While many employers had a steady stream of prospective candidates standing before their tables, no line was longer throughout the day than the one for the new Hollywood Casino Toledo, which is to open in the spring.

As he stood in line for more than 20 minutes just to speak with someone, 23-year-old Keirre Sawyer said he hoped to hear about nongaming jobs at the casino, such as bartenders and wait staff, and when those jobs might start. Earlier this month, the casino interviewed hundreds of prospective dealers.

“I have another job now, but I can’t sustain the lifestyle that I want on just one job,” Mr. Sawyer said.

The job fair was jointly sponsored by The Source, Lucas County’s one-stop shop for employment services, the county commissioners, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), whose office helped round up participating employers and who contributed “less than $1,000” from non-campaign funds to the overall event, a spokesman for Miss Kaptur said.

Miss Kaptur, county officials, and Seth Harris, the deputy secretary of labor in the Obama Administration, held a private 90-minute business roundtable with employers prior to the fair, then held a news conference as the event was getting under way to support passage of President Obama’s American Jobs Act in Congress.

Michael Johnson and Maria Bofia, both of Toledo, fill out employment applications at the job fair. The event downtown was sponsored by The Source, the county commissioners, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo). Michael Johnson and Maria Bofia, both of Toledo, fill out employment applications at the job fair. The event downtown was sponsored by The Source, the county commissioners, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).
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“The people flowing right now into this room know how important it is to get people back to work,” Mr. Harris said, touting the legislation.

But machinations in the halls of Congress are of little interest to 34-year-old Sabrina Lee of Toledo.

With three boys at home under age 12 and in the final semester for her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering as she enters her third month without a job, her needs are a bit more immediate.

“I’m used to having two jobs, plus taking care of my boys. I’m not used to not working,” Ms. Lee said as she filled out one of several job applications.

“I need to find a job.”

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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