By Rebekkah McKalsen, Contributing Writer
FULTON, NY – The jobs expo in the Fulton War Memorial, sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie, was the union of about two dozen employment opportunities with perhaps a dozen educational vendors present to help show residents how to market themselves for employers.
With Birdseye foods leaving Fulton, as resident David DeCare put it, “the pickings around here are very slim.”
Senator Ritchie sponsored and organized the expo in order to show residents that, even with what the senator admitted is a “blow to Oswego County,” there are, according to the senator’s communications director Jim Reagen, “actually more opportunities than people realize.”
The senator said that Birdseye’s closure was one of the main reasons for the event, because she wanted to “put Birdseye’s workers in contact with employers,” as well as other vendors, including Oswego County Workforce, that offer free workshops on topics like the basics of writing a resume, which would be helpful for someone who has not had to look for a job in a long time.
The expo, which ran from 2 to 6, attracted a crowd of more than 200 people.
Jason Pert, who has been unable to find a job since he got out of the military two months ago, said that he was looking for “anything” in order to start working again as soon as possible.
There were varied employment opportunities available for Pert to take advantage of.
For example, Johnson Controls is a $30 billion corporation with two divisions that manufacture batteries and other parts for cars and another division dedicated to researching ways to be more energy efficient with multiple offices throughout Central New York.
According to company representative Mark Turner, the company has roughly 130 openings to fill in the upstate area.
Turner noted that the ideal application to Johnson Controls is one that shows integrity as well as job experience in the division being applied for.
For applicants in the medical field, the event had multitudinous options available.
One attendee, Carrie Wells, is currently living and working in Canastota.
“I’m here to see what’s available because I’m thinking about relocating here,” she said.
Wells currently works at Upstate University Hospital specializing in cerebral palsy, and she is considering finding a local job as a home health aide.
For people like Wells, the expo indeed showcased many opportunities, just as Sen. Ritchie promised.
The Oswego OB/GYN, Sunrise nursing home, Bishop’s Commons and Oswego Industries are all looking for applicants with varying types of experience and college degrees in the medical field.
The Oswego OB/GYN office has openings for a nurse and a medical assistant, neither of which requires a degree.
Requirements for both positions include the equivalent of a high school diploma and current certification as an LPN or as an RN.
Applicants with one year of medical experience in a physician’s office will be given preference.
Sunrise, which is located near Oswego High School, has openings for LPNs and RNs in their nursing department, but also has openings in housekeeping and laundry for those who do not have medical experience.
Kelly Totman explained that both full-time and part-time positions offer benefits.
Sunrise applicants need to show “not necessarily experience but compassion” in order to be a good fit.
“They need to be able to work well with older people,” Totman added.
Bishop’s Commons, an assisted living “campus” next to St. Luke’s in Oswego, has positions available for home health aides and nurses.
Home health aides do not require a degree; Erin Crow cited people skills and experience handling prescription medications as the most vital qualities in their applicants.
Oswego Industries, a private, not-for-profit Community Rehabilitation facility in Fulton, has five job openings that focus on the developmentally disabled.
Applicants must show experience in the field in order to be considered.
Other opportunities in the area range from starting your own online business with Longaberger, a craft company based in Ohio that sells all American-made products, to entry level jobs like Dunkin’ Donuts or Wal-Mart.
Longaberger requires minimum sales of $1,000 annually but company representative Sonia Robinson declared, “You could do that in a coma!”
The company provides business owners with a web page and gives them the option to host house parties, while taking care of the corporate taxes involved in owning a small business.
The expo also offered job training skills to get residents ready to enter the job market, including free workshops put on by the Oswego County Workforce with focuses on writing and updating resumes for various employers and improving computer skills.
The Oswego County Workforce also offers an employment network that can benefit individuals who are currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) by helping them find job services and developing an employment plan based on the individual’s employment history, goals and barriers.
Other services at the expo included Consumer Credit Counseling, a non-profit organization that provides free counseling that, according to Debbie Reardon, “helps with improving your credit score and managing your budget.”
According to Reagen, there may be similar events held in other communities in the area “based on the success we’re having with this one.”
Although Birdseye foods leaving represents another challenge for Oswego County, with unemployment numbers all ready the highest in the state, Sen. Ritchie said, “The state is moving in the right direction. We passed Recharge NY, which will help bring businesses back into the state, but change will not happen overnight.”
She said that she has all ready heard of a few possibilities for businesses that want to move into the Fulton area and mentioned a meeting with the mayor and the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency (IDA) about potential development in the area.