Sen. Manchin’s presence brings attention to WVUP job fair

Photo by Evan Bevins U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks at the Mid-Ohio Valley Job Fair his office co-sponsored Wednesday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg with multiple local and state organizations.

PARKERSBURG — West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s annual job fair got a boost Wednesday from Sen. Joe Manchin.

The West Virginia Democrat’s office teamed up with the school and multiple local and state organizations to bring together more than 100 employers for job-seekers in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“Partnering with Sen. Manchin doubled us and then some,” said Jennifer Randolph, director of career services at WVUP.

The college’s job fairs usually draw about 50 employers, Randolph said. On Wednesday, area companies from Hemp Picks at the Point Park Marketplace to Highmark West Virginia and entities outside the region including the Charleston Police Department and Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Buffalo, W.Va., set up in three different locations on campus, along with trade unions, military recruiters, government agencies and more.

Manchin said this was the 23rd job fair organized by his office. There are employment opportunities in the state that need to be filled and people who can’t find work, and these events bring them together, he said.

Photo by Evan Bevins Tracy Arthur, left, with United Talent Staffing, speaks with West Virginia University at Parkersburg student Kayla Blair, right, and Blair’s fiance, Don Van Meter, about job prospects at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in Buffalo, W.Va., during the Mid-Ohio Valley Job Fair at WVUP Wednesday

“We have so much opportunity in West Virginia, we really do,” Manchin said. “We need a skilled workforce.”

Events like Wednesday’s can also highlight institutions like WVUP that can help people develop the skills they need.

“Some of you might be scared going in the market, might … think, ‘I don’t have the skill sets,'” Manchin said. “You don’t have the skill sets, you’re in the right place to get them.”

Randolph estimated between 300 and 400 people entered the job fair in the first hour it was open. Over the full four hours, approximately 650 people came through, said Katie Wootton, WVUP marketing director.

Mason resident Kayla Blair is in her second-to-last semester in WVUP’s Multi-Craft Technology program, which includes industrial maintenance and electricity and instrumentation courses. A steelworker laid off after nine years because of the economy, she went back to school with state assistance and was looking at potential jobs Wednesday.

Photo by Evan Bevins About 650 job-seekers turned out for Wednesday’s Mid-Ohio Valley Job Fair, where more than 100 employers were set up at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

“I am excited for this opportunity (where) so many different areas and aspects came together,” she said.

Among the local companies looking to hire Wednesday was Simonton Windows, which employs about 800 people at manufacturing sites in Ritchie County and hopes to add 80 to 100 more, said Dan Pennock, plant manager.

“The growth in the building industry is creating need for more windows from our facility,” he said. The job fair is “a nice event to see a lot of people, a lot of potential employees.”

Along with Manchin and WVUP, the job fair was co-sponsored by WorkForce West Virginia, the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, the Workforce Development Board of the Mid-Ohio Valley, West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance and Results Radio.

Manchin also spoke briefly Wednesday about the feud between President Donald Trump and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. He said he knows both men and doesn’t expect their disagreement to keep things from getting done in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Evan Bevins U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., shakes hands with Parkersburg resident Vickie Keller, who said she spoke with the senator about her search for a housekeeping job and plans to get her GED when she met him at Wednesday’s Mid-Ohio Valley Job Fair at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

“Who knows? Tomorrow they might be having lunch together and working on something,” he said.

Both men are professionals, Manchin said, and the back-and-forth seems to be how Trump does business.

“That’s the president’s style. It’s not my style,” he said.