Networking

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NORTH METRO ATLANTA, Ga. — The resources of two area chambers of commerce have begun a collaboration to connect industries with potential labor forces in a series of virtual hiring events.

The Greater North Fulton Chamber and Forsyth County Chamber are hosting online events that will feature representatives from local employers who will briefly discuss open positions, qualifications and how job seekers can apply. Attendees will also be able to participate in a break-out session with employers to ask questions about their company and specific opportunities.

“This is definitely new territory for all of us,” said Kali Boatright, president and CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber.

The Chamber’s focus over the past nine months, she said, has been launching and nurturing its new job website, northfultonjobs.com. Director of Economic and Talent Development Mark Goodman has been responsible for the launch and assisted in the collaboration with Forsyth County for the virtual job fair, Boatright said.

Right now, employers and employees are hurting, some industries more than others, Goodman said.

“Food service and hospitality is still kind of lagging behind,” he said. “The restaurants that do want to open are having struggles finding workers. Manufacturing and assembly work, they seem to be needing people.”

Construction seems to be the only sector that hasn’t slowed over the past couple of months, he added.

Boatright said she hopes the job fair will be one more tool the chamber can use to help get businesses back on track.

“So many of them, you know their hearts are broken that they have had to lay off or furlough employees,” she said. “This really gives them an opportunity as they come back to be able to expand workforces if that’s what they need to do, but also for those employees to find solid, local jobs. That’s what we’re really working on and why we collaborated on this.”

Laura Stewart, vice president with the Forsyth County Chamber, said that since the pandemic hit in early March, the organization has stepped up efforts to regularly survey members to get a read on what types of assistance could be offered.

“Things were changing rapidly day to day,” she said. “Early in our surveying efforts, we had employers reporting about layoffs and temporary layoffs.”

As the state and region continue to phase in business reopenings, Stewart said the Chamber wanted to get ahead of the curve.

“Now, as businesses begin to reopen, we know that some of those employers are going to be looking to build back their workforce, and we are trying to give them a platform to do that.”

Prior to this season, the Forsyth Chamber had only dealt with in-person job fairs. How to execute one online was something different.

In a virtual setting, she said, it makes sense to split sessions by industry. Part of that is logistics — cyber sessions can be difficult to manage when the number of participants and interests are massive. Also, businesses are different, and certain employers are looking for specific skills in their applicants.

It just made sense to stagger the sessions by industry, Stewart said, because job seekers and employers would be of like mind when attending the online sessions.

“We partnered with our friends at the Greater North Fulton Chamber because we realized that employment doesn’t have county borders,” Stewart said.

The North Fulton Chamber has been a great partner and helped bring in a lot of employers and supply information on how to conduct an online job fair, she said.

There is no cost for job seekers or employers to participate.

The first session, which focused on manufacturing, was held May 15.

Job seekers in North Fulton can register for other upcoming sessions by visiting gnfcc.com. Businesses interested in showcasing their opportunities should contact Mark Goodman at mgoodman@gnfcc.com. Those seeking employment in Forsyth can register at focochamber.org. Employers wishing to participate can contact Beth Harris at bharris@focochamber.org.

Each Friday through mid-June, the chambers will sponsor other online job fairs targeting specific industries.

Here’s a schedule of the remaining job fairs:

Healthcare Virtual Job Fair – Friday, May 22, noon to 2 p.m.

Hospitality Virtual Job Fair – Friday, May 29, noon to 2 p.m.

Technology Virtual Job Fair – June 5, noon to 2 p.m.

Construction Virtual Job Fair – June 12, noon to 2 p.m.

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