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LaNae Nielsen, left, human resources for Blackhawk Engineering talks with Steve Koch, right, about employment opportunities at the company during a job fair at the Waterloo Center for the Arts Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, in Waterloo, Iowa. (MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor)


WATERLOO, Iowa --- Chuck Hoop arrived at the Waterloo Center for the Arts a half-hour early Friday morning for a special job fair for former employees of bankrupt Hostess Brands Inc.

“I’m always early for everything,” said the former route driver for Hostess Brands Inc.

He had the first spot in line when the doors were opened to the fair, which had 23 employers trying to fill immediate openings. Organizers said about 85 Hostess workers had been invited to the job fair.

Some of the employers had multiple openings.

That suited Hoop.

“I’m pretty much applying for anything right now,” said Hoop, who had been with Hostess for six months before the local operation was shut down Nov. 16 as part of the Irving, Texas-based company’s liquidation plan.

There are plenty of jobs available, and not all of the potential employers were at the job fair, said Brittany Jungck, director of business services for the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, which put on the event in conjunction with IowaWORKS.

“We’ve been very fortunate with the public response to this job fair; we’ve seen businesses across the CV and state respond,” Jungck said.

There were “a couple of dozen employers and beyond” who wanted to attend the fair but couldn’t, due to space limitations, Jungck said.

“We focused on getting the best matches for this population,” she said.

Blackhawk Engineering in Cedar Falls was looking for computer numerically controlled machine and forklift operators, said Rebecca Alumdson, human resources assistant.

Alumdson was a recent hire of the company herself.

“Obviously, we’re looking for a hard worker and any experience on CNC or forklift, but we’re training for what we need you for.”

Hudson-based Nutri-Ject Systems Inc., which specializes in removal and land application of solids from wastewater and water treatment facilities, had immediate needs for “a half-dozen” new employees, said Scott Wienands, president.

“We literally have projects on hold because we don’t have enough employees,” he said.

Some workers were looking for one more job as a bridge to retirement.

“I’ve got another eight years or so to work,” said Kevin Olson, 57, who, for 13 years, was a mechanic at the Hostess distribution center on Newell Street.

“My biggest fear right now is just health insurance; that kind of spooks me a bit. Other than that, I’m faring all right, money-wise. I’ve been expecting this for two years," he added.

Bob Mattson, 55, lost his job as an over-the-road driver for Hostess.

“I’ve been driving off and on for 25 years; I may need a career change,” he said.


Business Editor at The Courier

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