Joshua Hawkins, Business Retention and Expansion Coordinator for the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce talks about why the Chamber put together its upcoming job fair.

1. Where and when is the job fair and how should people prepare themselves?

The job fair will be held 1-4 p.m. Wednesday in the Lowry Activity Center on the west side of the Stillwater Community Center, 315 W. 8th Ave. I would recommend people at least dress business casual so they’ll be ready to talk with employers. They should bring a resume if they have one or at least have the information and identification they need to fill out an application on the spot.

2. Why is the Chamber of Commerce getting involved in helping people find jobs? 

It was a combination of factors, including the changes in unemployment and the governor’s new Back to Work incentive program. Unemployment in Payne County was around 4% before the pandemic but is now significantly higher and employers are telling us they have trouble finding applicants. All businesses are struggling to recruit employees. We’re holding this free job fair, which is open to the public to help workers and employers connect. If it works well, it should be good for everybody.

3. You mentioned changes in the State of Oklahoma’s unemployment program and a new incentive. How do those work?

Beginning on the 27th, extra federal unemployment funds will be discontinued. On the 28th, the state will begin offering a $1,200 Back to Work incentive to people on some sort of unemployment who get a job and hold it for at least six weeks. 

4. Why did you decide to hold the job fair now?

Employers, especially those in the service industries are having a hard time finding workers. That’s compounded in this area by the fact that the students who make up much of the service industry work force have left town for the summer. We also wanted to help people connect with employers as soon as possible because the incentive is being offered to the first 20,000 people to apply and meet the criteria. The people attending this job fair won’t have six weeks of work when the program starts but getting a job now will give them a better chance of being one of the 20,000. We want as many of those in Stillwater as possible.

5. What types of employers and jobs will be represented?

We will have everything from service jobs to manufacturing, full and part-time. Oklahoma State University will be there. The City of Stillwater has some openings and may be participating. Some employers will be providing information, some will be taking applications and some may be doing at least screening interviews. We’re also trying to get a representative from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to attend so they can explain the unemployment benefit changes.

- Michelle Charles

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