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Job Fair at Rickenbacker Draws Hundreds

Hundreds of job seekers attended a job fair at Rickenbacker Airport on Wednesday.

The unemployment rate in Franklin County is 6.1 percent which means there are plenty of people looking for work. A cross section turned out at Rickenbacker Airport Wednesday many shaking hands, some passing out resumes to prospective employers.

"Well looking for employment anywhere'll work. Seems like jobs are pretty much hard to come by."

Companies including FedEx, UPS, Cheryl & Company, and Luxottica Optical, even the Ohio State Highway Patrol had booths or tables set up throughout the terminal. Job seekers listened as company reps explained their openings. Chris Kitchen is HR manager for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.

"What we have right now are part-time, winter, seasonal employees. They are guaranteed 20 hours a week and work November 1st to April 1st "

Scott McClelland says he lost his job as a dock worker at the trucking company Roadway. Now he says he's trying to find an employer that offers enough flexibility for him to meet family obligations; but he says it's tough.

"Trying to juggle the family hours and trying to find a place that's willing to work with that, yeah."

Troy Smith says family concerns brought him back to Columbus from Denver. Now he's looking for something that will pay at least $25,000 a year.

"I'm looking for full time employment looking for clerical work, my background's in the legal field - paralegal - so I'm looking for a good opportunity here in Ohio."

Downsizing is the reason why some people came to the job fair.

"I worked at Fifth Third Bank and they started downsizing my position at Fifth Third Bank."

Ricardo Norman says he's attending Columbus State while looking for a full-time job. But, he says, he's having a tough time financially.

"Yeah it's been tough you know the gas prices is going up. The economy is like really bad right now. And you know besides the everyday bills I have to budget my expenses so "

Some 15 companies at the job fair do business in the Rickenbacker area. Some of the dozens of employers here have full time openings, other just part-time. Rickenbacker might seem like an odd place for a job fair but not according to Franklin County Commissioners Paula Brooks.

"We as the county commissioners invest $4 million a year in building up the Rickenbacker area. And it's yielding results. So we want people to come here and see what the opportunities are here at this burgeoning inter-modal slash distribution center because it's working."

All the new jobs have prompted COTA to begin express bus service September 1st from the central city to Rickenbacker twice daily. But the economic slowdown is attracting prospective employees from beyond the Columbus area.

"This is the first job fair I've ever been to. I've been employed with my current employer since 1993."

Ryan Wright says he's looking for work in aircraft maintenance. He's one of 10,000 employees from around southwest Ohio who'll soon be looking for work.

"I work at ABX Air in Wilmington, Ohio and layoffs are in our near future and the CEO of DHL says it's irreversible. So looks like it's done.

Commissioner Brooks says that 4,000 jobs have been created in the Rickenbacker area over the past few years. She says she expects about a thousand more in the next two years.