WATERLOO, Iowa --- Job seekers got a sunny day and an even sunnier employment outlook at an outdoor job fair.
Hawkeye Community College held a job fair at the RiverLoop Expo Plaza in downtown Waterloo under a clear sky Wednesday afternoon.
The two dozen vendors and employers taking resumes and applications represented a fraction of the hundreds of jobs available in the Cedar Valley, said Brittany Jungck, advanced manufacturing coordinator at Hawkeye.
"About half of the jobs are in industry and manufacturing," said Jungck, adding that the area has approximately 200 to 300 such openings.
Many of the companies hiring were reducing staff as the recession hit in 2008. Jungck said she could count on companies such as Terex Cranes, of Waverly, and GMT Corporation, of Waterloo, for job openings. During the recession, both companies shed some of their workforce but now are looking for new hires.
"They're my count-on businesses again," she said.
However, the lack of a trained workforce has kept those industry jobs vacant, employers said.
"There isn't an emphasis on the trades," said Rich Kime, national sales manager at Power Engineering and Manufacturing, ltd. (PEM) of Waterloo.
Hawkeye offers certification in machining, which Kime said isn't keeping up with the pace of area demand.
"Everyone of those guys gets hired before they've completed it," said Kime, adding PEM has had 10 positions vacant for most of the year.
Miles Smith, of Cedar Falls, attended the fair and said he is considering returning to college after talking to some of the employers at the fair.
Smith said he has been unemployed and wants to re-enter the job market. He was looking forward to the job fair because it would give him a chance to talk to multiple company representatives in person.
"It's so much better than searching on the Internet," he said.
This was the first fair in the RiverLoop Expo Plaza. Jungck said she was nervous the weather would affect the turnout, but she said the venue was perfect.
"We get great exposure here," Jungck said.
The downtown traffic from Friday'loo and other events inspired her to hold the fair downtown. The location is also central to the Metro area and easy to reach by public transit, she added.
‘I think we've developed more of an appreciation for our downtown culture as a community in the last two, three years," she said.